5 Things California: Vaccine policy, Undocumented coverage gap, Maternal health disparities


Eli Kirshbaum


Happy March!

This newsletter includes an update on health legislation we’re monitoring, the Legislative Analyst’s Office’s input on Gov. Newsom’s budget proposals, and Blue Shield’s efforts to reduce maternal and infant health disparities.

Thank you for reading!

Eli Kirshbaum
State of Reform 


1. Policy movement in the legislature

Sen. Richard Pan—along with members of the legislative Vaccine Work Group—is pushing several bills related to COVID vaccinations and misinformation. SB 1479 would require CDPH to develop a COVID testing plan and SB 1018 would address COVID misinformation by requiring online platforms to disclose their algorithms. Pan is also sponsoring SB 871, which would require students to be vaccinated against COVID to attend school, and SB 866, which would authorize children aged 12 or older to consent to be vaccinated without needing parental approval.

AB 933, a closely-followed bill that died in committee in January, was recently revived by Asm. Tom Daly in the form of AB 2942. The legislation would require at least 90% of pharmaceutical rebates to be passed on to patients. It also aims to empower patients by requiring insurers to provide each of their enrollees a good faith estimate of their cost-sharing reduction through this new provision at the point of sale. AB 2942 currently awaits a committee hearing.


2. Detailed Agenda for 2022 NorCal State of Reform Health Policy Conference now available!

Managing newly eligible CalAIM populations, funding health equity, and improving child mental healththese are just a few of the topics that will be taken up by experts at the 2022 Northern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference on March 23. We released the event’s Detailed Agenda last week, where you can see the full list of speakers and topics slated for the day. Be sure to register if you’d like to attend!

We are delighted to announce that Vern Smith, Ph.D., an HMA veteran with tremendous experience in the health policy world, is stepping up to host and moderate all of our spring events. We are so grateful to have Vern join us and host our next several conferences.


3. What They’re Watching: Samantha Trad, Compassion & Choices

Samantha Trad, national director of care advocacy at Compassion & Choices, praises the 2021 amendments to the End of Life Option Act that took effect in January. Originally passed in 2015, the bill authorizes an individual who is “imminently dying” to receive a prescription that will ease their suffering and allow them to reach the end of their life peacefully.

In our latest “What They’re Watching” video, Trad discusses how the amendments to the legislation will make it more accessible to all Californians—not just those with more privilege.

4. Brief: Newsom’s Medi-Cal expansion proposal could temporarily leave many uninsured

While stating that Gov. Newsom’s proposal to expand full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented individuals aged 26-49 could decrease the state’s uninsured by 1 million, the Legislative Analyst’s Office warns the extended timeline for this provision’s implementation threatens coverage for many Californians. In a recent brief analyzing health policy proposals in the governor’s budget, the LAO explains that 40,000 undocumented young adults could lose full-scope coverage prior to the Jan. 1, 2024 implementation date.

When the public health emergency ends, undocumented Californians who turn 26 prior to the implementation date will no longer be protected by the federal halt on Medicaid coverage loss. To address this, LAO recommends taking an incremental approach to implementation, suggesting that counties maintain full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for these individuals or expand coverage to people up to age 30 sooner than Jan. 1, 2024.

5. Blue Shield works to eliminate maternal health disparities

“The medical and social needs of Black mothers and babies are being ignored and underserved,” according to DD Johnice, vice president of the health transformation lab at Blue Shield of California. Johnice recently spoke with State of Reform about the organization’s new Maternal Child Health Equity Initiative and its work to eliminate race-based maternal health disparities.

An integral part of the initiative, said Johnice, is its partnership with CBOs like Black Wellness and Prosperity CenterDiversity Uplift, and Her Health First. Blue Shield provides doula training, emergency funds, and maternal supplies through its collaboration with these “experts with deep roots” in their communities.