California Healthline: Committee Finally Moves Health Reform Bills

by David Gorn

The Assembly Committee on Health yesterday approved passage of two bills that made up the bulk of policy decisions in the legislative special session on health care.

Yesterday’s committee approval came the day after the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown hammered out a budget agreement. Some details of that pact have not been officially announced, including a provision for coverage of autism services. Autism coverage is implicitly contained — but could still be dropped — from one of the bills passed by the committee yesterday.

SBX1-1 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) would implement optional Medi-Cal expansion, paving the way for 1.4 million Californians earning up to 138% of federal poverty level to become eligible for the state’s Medicaid program.

In the June 4 version of that bill, a type of autism therapy called applied behavioral analysis was implicitly covered as an essential health benefit, but autism advocates worry that coverage might be dropped as a result of the new budget deal.

In a letter to state legislators yesterday, children’s advocates said:

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