California Gov. Gray Davis Signs, Vetoes AIDS-Related Legislation
Facing an Oct. 14 deadline to sign bills passed in California's most recent legislative session, California Gov. Gray Davis (D) last week signed the following AIDS-related legislation:
- AB 1263: Sponsored by Assembly member Carole Migden (D), the measure authorizes the California Department of Health Services to work with the CDC on a "rapid" HIV test research program (Office of the Governor release, 10/11).
- SB 613: Sponsored by state Sen. Richard Alarcon (D), the measure allows Medi-Cal managed care plans to help patients with disabilities complete and submit re-enrollment paperwork to ensure that they do not experience any gaps in health care coverage (Office of the Governor release, 10/11).
- SB 446: Sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellsos (D), the measure requires individual and group health plans to cover HIV/AIDS vaccines that are approved by the FDA and recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service. The law does not require health plans to cover experimental vaccines used in clinical trials (Office of the Governor release, 10/9).
- AB 916: Sponsored by Assembly member Fred Keeley (D), the measure would have broadened an existing requirement that school districts provide students in grades seven through 12 with AIDS prevention classes to include instruction on how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (AB 916 text, 10/16).
- AB 937: Sponsored by Assembly member Paul Koretz (D), this bill would have required every health insurance plan that covers hospital, medical, or surgical expenses and reimburses providers on a capitation basis to take under consideration specific guidelines when developing reimbursement rates for providers and primary care case management programs for the treatment of HIV-positive enrollees (AB 937 text, 10/17).
AIDS groups had mixed reactions concerning Davis' decisions, but "saw fewer than expected advances" in the area of HIV/AIDS this legislative session, according to a press release from the AIDS Project Los Angeles. Daniel Montoya, director of government affairs at AIDS Project Los Angeles, said, "The governor signed several bills of note to people with HIV/AIDS in California. Unfortunately, the governor's actions were overshadowed by his decision to cut $4.2 million from vital state prevention and education programs and his vetoes of additional legislation of importance." Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles, expressed disappointment in Davis' decision to veto the AIDS education measure and his earlier move to block a bill that would have required insurers to cover AIDS drugs. "Despite his previous record, this year Gov. Davis became the first California governor to cut education and prevention efforts and made the unfortunate decision to veto legislation that would have expanded HIV education programs in our public schools and improve access to care and treatment for all Californians," he said (AIDS Project Los Angeles release, 10/15). AIDS Healthcare Foundation Government Affairs Manager Jessie Gruttadauria praised Davis' decision to sign SB 613, stating, "By providing notice to the managed care plan, the plan would have the opportunity to work with the patient prior to the hold taking effect and may be able to resolve the issue prior to discontinuation of coverage" (AHF release, 10/12). Dana Van Gorder, state policy director for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, said that he was "encouraged" by Davis' approval of the rapid testing measure because the test is an "important tool" for encouraging testing and will help the one-third of those tested who never receive test results (Alyson Browett, Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/17).