Newsom AB 5

Gov. Newsom signed AB 457, the "Protection of Patient Choice in Telehealth Provider Act,'' ensuring patients can access telehealth services from their selected health care provider, or other networked provider of their choosing, rather than having a health plan direct them to a third-party corporate telehealth provider. 

The new law also requires that in the context of health plans contracting with third party telehealth providers, individuals who receive telehealth services for mental or behavioral health conditions be given the option of continuing to receive that service with the contracting individual health professional, a contracting clinic, or a contracting health facility.

Additional healthcare related bills signed into law include:

COVID-19 Testing (SB 510) | This bill requires health insurers to cover the cost of coronavirus tests, ensuring California patients do not have to pay out-of-pocket fees or contend with prior authorization requirements. This bill protects patients from surprise medical bills and alleviates bureaucratic obstacles for both physicians and patients.

ACEs Equity Act (SB 428) | Significantly expands health insurance coverage for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) screening. The legislation builds on the work of the ACEs Aware initiative, which offers Medi-Cal providers training, screening tools, clinical protocols, and payment for screening children and adults for ACEs.

Vaping Tax (SB 395) | Increases the tax on e-cigarette and vaping products to more closely mirror the taxes on other tobacco products. The bill also ensures future funding for physician workforce programs, such as the physician loan repayment program, which creates incentives for new physicians to treat more low-income patients and provide care to underserved communities.

New Health Care Debt and Fair Billing Rules for Hospitals (AB 1020) | Imposes new limitations on hospital debt collections and raises the income level for hospital charity care eligibility as further discussed below. According to the bill’s author, this law is necessary to avoid further economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community Pharmacy “Quotas” (SB 362) | Community pharmacies will be prohibited from establishing performance quotas. For purposes of the new law, a “quota” is a fixed number or formula related to the duties for which a pharmacist or pharmacy technician license is required, against which the chain community pharmacy or its agent measures or evaluates the number of times either an individual pharmacist or pharmacy technician performs tasks or provides services while on duty. 


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