New California Healthcare-Related Laws for 2018

Brown Gavel With Medical Stethoscope Near Book At Wooden Desk In Courtroom

Of the close to 50 healthcare-related bills that became law, below are some of the highlights:

Medical Board of California. The Medical Board of California, established under the Medical Practice Act for the licensure and regulation of physicians and surgeons, has been extended another four years. Existing law requires the Governor to appoint members to the Board, authorizes the Board to employ an executive director, investigators, legal counsel, medical consultants, and other assistance, and requires the Attorney General to act as legal counsel for the Board. In signing SB 798 extending the Board’s sunset date, Gov. Brown said: “To the Members of the California State Senate: I am signing Senate Bill 798, which extends the sunset for the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California from January 1, 2018, to January 1, 2022. Two issues were identified during the legislative process requiring further review: vertical enforcement and the exchange of expert witness reports between a doctor under investigation and the Medical Board. I am directing my staff to work with the Legislature and the Attorney General’s Office to determine what changes
are needed.”

CURES: The Controlled Substances Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) remains a tool for legislators as the opioid crisis continues to generate national attention. Under AB 40 to be in effect no later than October 1, 2018, the State Department of Justice shall authorize a healthcare practitioner or pharmacist to submit a query to the CURES database through the department’s online portal or through a health information technology system if the entity operating the system has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Department addressing the technical specifications of the system and can certify, among other requirements, that the system meets applicable patient privacy and information security requirements of state and federal law.

Filling a Partial Scheduled II Controlled Substance: Beginning July 1, 2018, a pharmacist will be authorized to dispense a Schedule II controlled substance as a partial fill if requested by the patient or the prescriber. AB 1048 will require the pharmacy to retain the original prescription, with a notation of how much of the prescription has been filled, the date and amount of each partial fill, and the initials of the pharmacist dispensing each partial fill, until the prescription has been fully dispensed.

Creation of a New Fellowship Program in Mental Health: The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission is authorized under AB 1134 to establish a fellowship program to provide an experiential learning opportunity for a mental health consumer and a mental health professional.
The bill requires the Commission to establish an advisory committee to provide guidance on the fellowship program goals, design, eligibility criteria, and application process. The bill authorizes the Commission to enter into an interagency agreement or other contractual agreement with a state, local, or private entity, and to receive technical assistance or relevant services to support the establishment and implementation of the fellowship program.

Genomic Cancer Testing Information: Current law requires a physician and surgeon to give a breast cancer patient a standardized written summary, made available by the Medical Board of California with recommendations from the Cancer Advisory Council, to inform the patient of the advantages, disadvantages, risks, and descriptions of the procedures medically viable and efficacious alternative methods of breast cancer treatment. The summary is required to be revised every three years and include any new or revised information. AB 1386 requires the State Department of Health Care Services to include information relating to breast cancer susceptibility gene (BRCA) mutations, in order to achieve increased genetic counseling and screening rates of individuals for whom BRCA test results can inform treatment decisions.

Temporary Expansion of Scope of Care: The California Hospice Licensure Act of 1990 provides for the licensure and regulation by the State Department of Public Health of persons or agencies that provide hospice. SB 294 authorizes, until January 1, 2022, a licensee under the Act to provide any of the authorized interdisciplinary hospice services, including palliative care, to a patient who has a serious illness. The bill would require a licensee who elects to provide palliative care pursuant to this temporary authorization to report additional specified information to the Department, including the number of patients receiving palliative care.

The California Legislature returns for the 2018-2019 legislative session on January 2, 2018.


From the Cooperative of American Physicians