On April 26, due to time-consuming debates in previous sessions and untimely equipment failures, the Health Committee, which I serve as Vice Chair, dealt with 56 bills in a hearing that lasted well into the evening. Several important pieces of legislation made it through the committee.
Among these were two bills that I introduced, Assembly Bills 2818 and 2768. AB 2818 will ultimately lead to the expansion of the substance use disorder treatment workforce in California to aid in treatment of alcohol and drug abuse. More professionals in the workforce will lead to better treatment for abusers and help reduce crime rates, the costs of law enforcement, including court and prison costs, and lead to less homelessness. AB 2768 will address the critical shortage of psychiatric beds in California by leading to the development of a real-time, internet-based database providing information on available beds/facilities to serve the mentally ill. This way when a patient is brought in to the ER, a bed and treatment can be located
Since some health plans have been reluctant to cover pain management alternatives to pharmaceutical treatments, even though surveys show most patients prefer them, AB 2585 (McCarty) will encourage insurers to cover nonpharmacological treatments approved by the FDA. Treatments like chiropractic, acupuncture etc would be options. Other bills approved on the 26th include AB.2951 (Salas), which will establish a pilot program for cities to obtain grant funding for mobile mental health response teams, and AB 2529 (Davies and Calderon), will provide state funding to programs that train certified nurse-midwives to overcome projected shortages of maternity care providers in many California counties.
These bills have bi-partisan support and most are being placed on the Appropriations Committee “consent calendar” to speed passage. Despite the headlines about contentious bills, we often come together and agree on legislation that benefits everyone, regardless of party labels.