Gov. Gavin Newsom wrapped up the 2021-22 legislative session by signing numerous bills into law. These newly signed bills include key health measures concerning patient health information, e-prescriptions, physician licenses, and health plan coverage of COVID-19 treatments.
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Senate Bill 1419, sponsored by Sen. Josh Becker (D – Menlo Park), will expand the existing requirement that health care professionals provide the results of clinical laboratory tests to patients to also include imaging scans, and allow physicians time to review test results before disclosing them to the patient. The bill will require health plans to maintain certain application programming interfaces to facilitate patient and provider access to health information.
The bill will also expand the prohibition on the ability of a minor’s representative to inspect or obtain copies of the minor’s patient records to include clinical notes, as well as prohibit the minor’s representative from accessing the patient’s medical records when they relate to certain sensitive medical services.
The bill’s author says SB 1419 will promote transparency and trust in the patient-physician relationship, as well as address the detrimental effects of sharing patient health information without sufficient physician consultation and privacy protections. Supporters of the bill claim this scenario can happen as a result of federal information-blocking rules that require health care professionals to release patient data as soon as it is available.
California Medical Association President Robert E. Wailes, MD, vocalized CMA’s support of the bill upon its signing.
“Giving patients access to their own health information is very important because it allows them to be partners in their care,” he said. “SB 1419 will give patients the support they need when learning of sensitive and potentially life-changing information about their health and well-being.”
Opponents of the bill, including the California Department of Finance, say the bill creates ongoing costs and additional workloads for the Department of Managed Health Care. Other opponents of the bill, including the California Health Coalition Advocacy, cite concerns with the bill’s restrictions on parental access to medical records.
Newsom signed SB 1419 on Sept. 30th.
Another recently signed bill is Assembly Bill 852. The bill, sponsored by Asm. Jim Wood (D – Santa Rosa), would prohibit a pharmacy from refusing to fill an electronic prescription solely because the prescription was not submitted through the pharmacy’s proprietary software. The bill would also add low-volume prescribers, prescribers that practice in an area affected by natural disaster or emergency, and prescribers granted a waiver based on other extraordinary circumstances, to the list of prescribers exempt from e-prescription requirements.
“AB 852 will give physicians more flexibility in complying with California’s prescribing mandate,” Wailes stated upon the bill’s signing. “By allowing exceptions to e-prescribing requirements for health care practitioners who meet certain criteria, this bill will ensure that patients are able to get the medications they need without delay.”
Supporters of the bill claim that exempting low-volume prescribers from the state’s e-prescription requirements will address complaints from prescribers who write 100 prescriptions or less per year, who say meeting these requirements is costly.
Opponents of the bill, including the California Retailers Association, claim it would require pharmacies to accept electronic prescriptions without the time necessary to build up system capabilities to accommodate this.
Newsom signed the bill on Sept. 25th, and it will take effect immediately.