With deadline looming, Gov. Newsom signs health legislation over the weekend

Governor Gavin Newsom has just days left to sign into law bills passed during California’s 2020 legislative session. With the Sept. 30th deadline looming, Newsom signed and vetoed a series of health-related legislation over the weekend.

On Saturday, Newsom’s office announced he had signed a package of legislation strengthening protections for LGBTQ+ Californians. The list of bills includes SB 932, which requires the state to collect sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data for major communicable diseases. Sen. Scott Wiener introduced the legislation in May in an effort to improve data collection related to COVID-19 testing and treatment.

 

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The governor also signed AB 2218 which establishes the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund.

“The Fund will assist organizations serving people that identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, or intersex (TGI), and help create or fund TGI-specific housing programs and partnerships with hospitals, health care clinics and other medical providers to provide TGI-focused health care,” says the governor’s office.

Newson on Friday also signed a series of behavioral health bills including a bill supporting statewide standards for behavioral health peer support specialists, along with a bill requiring health plans to provide full coverage for the treatment of mental health conditions and substance use disorders. He also signed AB 2265, which clarifies that some Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds may be used for co-occurring substance use and mental health treatment.

Along with the new bills signed into law, Newsom also vetoed several bills including telehealth bill AB 2360.

AB 2360 would have required health care plans, including Medi-Cal managed care plans, to provide access to a provider consultation program for those who treat children, pregnant individuals, and individuals up to one year postpartum. In his veto message, Newsom stated:

“While I appreciate the author’s intent to expand mental health services for children and pregnant and postpartum persons, the bill would create costs that would be more appropriately addressed though the annual budget process.”

Newsom also vetoed AB 2387, a bill that would have allowed counties to perform In-Home Supportive Services reassessment through telehealth if certain conditions are met. In his veto message, Newsom said it is too early to make statutory changes to these policies.

“Moreover, although this bill may provide counties greater case management flexibility, it may also impede social workers’ ability to directly and accurately assess IHSS recipients’ abilities, limitations, living conditions, health and safety.”

Several bills that received attention during the legislative session are still awaiting a decision from Newsom.

The governor has yet to make a decision on AB 890, a bill that would allow some nurse practitioners to practice independently without physician supervision after completing educational and training requirements. Asm. Jim Wood, who introduced the legislation, says the bill will make health care more accessible and help control health care costs. Those in opposition, such as the California Medical Association, warn that the bill could threaten patient safety.

Newsom also hasn’t made a decision on AB 1845, which would establish the Office to End Homelessness within the governor’s office. The new office would be charged with coordinating homelessness services, policies, programs, and data among local, state, and federal agencies.

Update: Since the date of this story’s original publication, Gov. Newsom signed AB 890 and vetoed AB 1845.