Although California’s legislative committees are not holding meetings until March, lawmakers continue to work on numerous healthcare-related bills that were pre-filed last year. State of Reform recently covered California’s health bills relating to students and substance use disorder.
State of Reform had the opportunity to interview state Rep. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Sacramento Valley) about her sponsorship of Assembly Bill 48, or the Nursing Facility Resident Informed Consent Protection Act of 2023. This bill would allow patients in nursing or intermediate care facilities to accept or refuse the administration of psychotherapeutic drugs.
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“I introduced it because quite frankly, I have heard a very interesting podcast about the usage of psychotherapeutic drugs to people in homes,” Aguiar-Curry said. “It really upset me. I’m thinking, who’s their advocate?”
AB 48 would allow every nursing or intermediate care facility resident to receive information on informed consent decisions when it comes to accepting or refusing psychotherapeutic drugs. The bill would also add in the right to be free from psychotherapeutic drugs that are used for disciplining residents, convenience, or chemical restraint, apart from emergency situations that would cause immediate injury to the resident or others.
“Families and the patients should be able to make informed decisions,” Aguiar-Curry said. “If someone has dementia, it gives the family more control to manage the health of their loved one. They need to know the pros and cons of that particular drug, and how it’s being used.”
The bill would also require facility staff to verify that the resident’s health record contains a signed written consent form before beginning treatment with psychotherapeutic drugs. Additionally, the facility would be required to provide written notice to the resident or their representative of any recommended dosage adjustments within six months, and every six months after. The prescriber would also be responsible for disclosing material information relating to psychotherapeutic drugs.
“As our elderly communities are getting larger, we need to take care of them just how we take care of our children,” Aguiar-Curry said. “We are watching out for our seniors, and it’s a really important part of our families.”
For this bill, Aguiar-Curry thought about the aging population and the people being left behind, or those who are not being told about certain types of medications, such as individuals without advocates, and how families of color are disproportionately impacted by this.
“My family is Mexican—Latina—and years ago…they wouldn’t ask questions about anything,” Aguiar-Curry said. “They would just assume whatever they were given they should take.”
Last February, Aguiar-Curry introduced Assembly Bill 1809, or the Nursing Facility Resident Informed Consent Protection Act of 2022, which Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed. Since then, she has reintroduced this bill under a new name and new changes the Department of Public Health wanted to be reflected, she said.
“It got through really well last time,” Aguiar-Curry said. “Everybody could relate to it. We have to work with our agencies. This is my rule in office—what’s the problem, and what’s the implementation?”
After addressing language in the bill and Department of Health considerations, Aguiar-Curry said she is confident that it will get through the governor this year.
Below are some additional healthcare bills we’re watching that are yet to be discussed by the legislature:
AB 40 would require the Emergency Medical Services Authority to develop electronic signatures for use between emergency medical department personnel at receiving facilities, and transporting emergency medical personnel. The electronic signature would capture points in time when the hospital receives a notification of an ambulance arrival, and when the transfer of care is executed for documentation of ambulance and patient offload time.
The authority would also be required to develop a statewide standard of 20 minutes, 90% of the time, for ambulance patient offload time. The authority would also be required to develop an audit tool to improve data accuracy relating to transfer of care, and to provide technical assistance. In collaboration with local hospitals, local EMS agencies would be required to create a joint plan to respond to surges in demand for medical services.
AB 47 would require healthcare service plans and contracts, and health insurance policies issued, amended, or renewed on or after Jan. 1st, 2024, to provide coverage for pelvic floor physical therapy following pregnancies.
AB 55 would set a Medi-Cal fee for service reimbursement rate for emergency medical transports at $350 per transport. It would also specify that the $350 reimbursement rate would not affect the calculation of the Quality Assurance Fee rate, but that rate would be based on methodology.
AB 70 would require six trauma kits for certain buildings to be developed before Jan.1st, 2023. Current law requires trauma kits for structures developed after Jan.1st, 2023.
AB 82 would prohibit retail stores from selling, transferring, or furnishing dietary supplements for weight loss, or over the counter diet pills to anyone under the age of 18 without a prescription. It would also require retail establishments to check identification.
AB 85 would require healthcare service plan contracts, and health insurance policies issued, amended, or renewed on or after January 1st, 2024, to include coverage for screenings for social determinants of health. It would provide primary care physicians with adequate access to community health workers in counties where healthcare service plans and insurers have enrollees and insureds.
AB 85 would also require the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) to convene a working group that would create a standardized model, and procedures for connecting patients with community resources to address the needs of a centralized list of accredited community providers. The group would also determine gaps in research and data to inform policies about system changes.
SB 9 would raise the age for extended foster care to up to 26 years. It would expand the eligibility of foster care benefits by revising the definition of a ‘nonminor’ dependent.
SB 11 would restrict the practice of contracting out for mental health services at the 23 California State University campuses, and instead increase the number of full-time and permanent mental health counselors.
SB 45 would establish an Acute Care Psychiatric Hospital Loan Fund to continuously appropriate dosh to the fund for loans to qualifying county and city applications to build and renovate acute care psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric health facilities, or psychiatric units in general acute care hospitals. This bill would require the California Health Facilities Financing Authority to develop an application for city and county applicants by Jan.1st, 2025.
SB 58 relates to the decriminalization of certain hallucinogenic substances. It would make the possession, preparation, obtainment, transfer, and transportation of specified quantities of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline lawful for personal, facilitated, and supported use for those 21 years and older. The bill would allow for penalties for the possession of these substances on school grounds, or transferring to or possession by individuals under 21 years.