ITUP Blog: 2020 Legislative Bill Round-up

October 16, 2020

By Katie Heidorn, Marissa Kraynak, Garrett Hall, Katerina Jou

2020 Legislative Bill Round-up

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ITUP is focusing on health equity, community health, and delivery system transformation, often with a pre/post COVID-19 lens. In our regional workgroups (thank you to those of you who’ve attended them or are planning to attend!), there have been several common topics to rise out of the conversations including:  the need for community-focused health and increasing access to services; economic and other social determinants of health stressors; and, coordination of COVID-19 policy, testing, and follow-up care.

The Governor had until October 1, 2020, to sign or veto enrolled bills. Here is a round-up of some significant bills that were signed into law and some that were vetoed (shown in italics) that:  expand access to health care services; address the social determinants of health and promote equity; and, meet consumers’ and providers’ needs during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Note:  this is not a comprehensive list of all the health and health care-related bills that were signed and vetoed. If you have questions about a bill not listed here, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].


Increasing Consumer Access to Services

Nurse Practitioners Allowed to Practice Independently:  AB 890 (Wood), Chapter 265, Statutes of 2020—Effective January 1, 2021, AB 890 requires the Board of Registered Nursing to define minimum standards and authorizes a nurse practitioner to transition to practice independently. Nurse practitioners would be authorized to order, perform, and interpret diagnostic procedures, certify disability, and prescribe, administer, dispense, and furnish controlled substances. Beginning January 1, 2023, the bill also allows a nurse practitioner to perform those functions without standardized procedures outside of specified settings or organizations if the nurse practitioner holds an active certification issued by the Board. The bill would require an occupational analysis to be completed by January 1, 2023.

MHSA Funds and Substance Use Treatment:  AB 2265 (Quirk-Silva), Chapter 144, Statutes of 2020 – Effective January 1, 2021, AB 2265 permits counties to use Mental Health Services Fund monies for substance use disorder treatment services for individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who are eligible to receive mental health services provided by these funds.

Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialists:  SB 803 (Beall), Chapter 150, Statutes of 2020 – Effective July 1, 2022, SB 803 requires the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to seek ways including federal waivers or approvals, to establish a statewide Medi-Cal demonstration or pilot project to develop certification programs for peer support specialists. Peer support specialists are individuals who self-identify that they have lived through the process of recovery from substance use disorder and/or mental illness.

Commercial Health Insurance Mental Health Parity:  SB 855 (Weiner), Chapter 151, Statutes of 2020—Effective January 1, 2021, SB 855 revises and recasts California’s Mental Health Parity law. It requires all health plans and insurers to provide coverage for medically necessary treatment of mental health and substance use disorders under the same terms and conditions applied to other medical conditions. SB 855 applies to commercial health plans and insurers only; it does not apply to Medi-Cal managed care plans.

FQHCs and Telehealth:  AB 2164 (Rivas)—This bill was vetoed. It would have authorized Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Centers (RHCs) to establish a patient at their clinic via a telehealth visit and would have sunsetted 180 days after the termination of the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency. The Governor’s veto message states that DHCS is currently evaluating its telehealth policies including the flexibilities afforded by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.


Equity, Prevention, and Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

Office of Suicide Prevention:  AB 2112 (Ramos), Chapter 142, Statutes of 2020 – Effective January 1, 2021, AB 2112 authorizes the State Department of Public Health to establish the Office of Suicide Prevention. It emphasizes a focus of activities in groups with the highest risk of suicide, including youth, Native American youth, older Americans, veterans, and LGBTQ individuals.

Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund:  AB 2218 (Santiago), Chapter 181, Statutes of 2020—Effective January 1, 2021, AB 2218 establishes the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund for the purpose of funding grants to organizations serving people that identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, or intersex (TGI), to support TGI-specific housing programs and partnerships with hospitals, health care clinics, and other medical providers to provide TGI-focused health care.

CalFresh and Re-Entry:  AB 3073 (Wicks), Chapter 225, Statutes of 2020—No later than September 1, 2022, AB 3073 requires the State Department of Social Services to recommend and suggest methods for county human services agencies to partner with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and county jails to enroll otherwise eligible applicants for the CalFresh program to ensure their benefits may begin as soon as possible upon reentry.

Flavored Tobacco Prohibition:  SB 793 (Hill), Chapter 34, Statutes of 2020—Effective January 1, 2021, SB 793 prohibits a tobacco retailer from selling, offering for sale, or possessing with the intent to sell a flavored tobacco product or a tobacco product flavor enhancer.


COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Employer COVID-19 Exposure Notification Requirements:  AB 685 (Reyes), Chapter 84, Statutes of 2020—Effective January 1, 2021, AB 685 requires employers to provide notification of potential exposure of COVID-19 to their employees and the employers of subcontracted employees, if impacted, within one business day of the notice of potential exposure. AB 685 requires employers of employees with a potential exposure of COVID-19 to provide information regarding COVID-19-related benefits and options as well as a safety plan the employer will implement to disinfect and ameliorate the potential hazard, per federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Housing and Eviction Moratorium:  AB 3088 (Chiu), Chapter 37, Statutes of 2020—Effective August 31, 2020, AB 3088 establishes a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 financial hardship, subject to numerous conditions, until January 31, 2021, subject to numerous conditions. The legislation includes intent language for these provisions to be retroactive to August 19, 2020.

Health Care Employer PPE Stockpiles:  SB 275 (Pan), Chapter 301, Statutes of 2020—Commencing January 1, 2023, or one year after the adoption of regulation, whichever is later, SB 275 requires health care employers to maintain an inventory of new, unexpired Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use by health care and essential workers in the event of a declared state of emergency. SB 275 would require this stockpile of PPE to be sufficient for 45 days of surge consumption. No later than January 1, 2022, SB 275 requires the Department of Public Health and the Office of Emergency Services, upon appropriation, to establish a PPE stockpile and for the department to establish guidelines for the amount of PPE required and how to procure and distribute PPE in the event of another pandemic or health emergency.

Emergency Food Assistance Payments:  AB 826 (Santiago)—This bill was vetoed by the Governor. It would have immediately established a program to provide emergency food assistance to those that self-attest as eligible for state or federal nutrition assistance or immigration legal services in the form of a one-time use, prepaid card preloaded with $600 to be used at any grocery retailer. The Governor’s veto message stated that the Administration is committed to supporting all Californians during the COVID-19 crisis and has advanced efforts to provide relief that is inclusive and directed towards undocumented Californians.

Community Organizations and Emergency Response:  AB 2054 (Kamlager)—This bill was vetoed. Commencing January 1, 2021, and until January 1, 2024, this bill would have enacted the Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems Act, or the C.R.I.S.E.S. Act, for the purpose of creating, implementing, and evaluating the C.R.I.S.E.S. Act Grant Pilot Program. The bill would require the Office of Emergency Services to establish rules and regulations for the act with the goal of making grants to community organizations, over 3 years, for the purpose of expanding the participation of community organizations in emergency response for specified vulnerable populations. The bill would require that grantees receive a minimum award of $250,000 per year. The Governor’s veto message stated that the Office of Emergency Services is not the appropriate location for this pilot program.