Oral Chemotherapy Bill (SB
Many of you contacted me about the oral chemotherapy bill, and
overwhelmingly you were in favor of this proposal. The Assembly
passed this bill during Thursday's floor session.
For some people who have cancer, taking an oral chemotherapy
pill at home might be a better option than checking into a
hospital to get intravenous (IV) chemotherapy (depending on
their treatment plan and advice of their physician.) SB 300
would prohibit health insurance policies and self-insured
governmental and school district health plans that already cover
injected or IV chemotherapy from requiring that the patient pay
a higher copayment for this type of oral treatment.
Before we passed SB 300, the Assembly made some changes. The
bill now mirrors what the last few states have done with parity
and co-payments. Insurance companies now have an "either/or"
choice. They can choose parity (treating IV, injected, and oral
treatments the same way) for chemotherapy coverage, or
choose to cap the patient's out-of-pocket costs to no more than
$100 for a 30 day supply. For high-deductible plans, the
deductible must be satisfied before the cap begins. The
effective date of this legislation is January 1, 2015.
Note: This bill doesn't impact those without insurance or those
who use the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, or have self-insured
plans. The Affordable Care Act (a federal program) does not
cover oral chemotherapy drugs.
Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment for seizure disorder (AB
I also heard from many of you on this issue. AB 726 would allow
CBD oil, which is a non-psychoactive substance, to be prescribed
by a physician or pharmacist as a treatment for seizure
disorders. It would also allow the Federal Drug Administration
approved investigations in to our state on this drug. Parents of
some children with seizure disorders have seen remarkable
results after their children were treated with cannabidiol in
the form known as CBD Oil Extract. This material has no
hallucinogenic properties, and scientists believe it quiets the
electrical and chemical activities that cause some potentially
fatal brain seizures.
This bill addresses a very narrow circumstance, and does not
support forms of medical marijuana you may have read or heard
about. As I said in an interview with The Washington Post on
this topic, "I am not in support of legalizing marijuana and
have not supported medical marijuana up to this point, but
common sense tells me this is not remotely the same thing as
that." (Online article published March 2 by Ariana Eunjung Cha)
I added my name as a cosponsor to AB 726 on February 12th, and
this bill passed the Assembly (as
amended) on Tuesday. Now, hopefully, the Senate will take
action on it.
This week we approved several pieces of election reform the
Senate had already passed:
SB 20 Expands the residency eligibility for election
inspectors so that they can be residents of the county to
serve in this role, not just residents of their municipality
SB 324 Standardizes in-person absentee voting hours for
statewide elections and allows municipalities to hire people
to assist with in-person absentee voting.
SB 377 Provides more information about same-day
registrations by requiring the
Government Accountability Board (GAB) to publish the
results of the election day voter registration audit on its
SB 548 Transfers the four-year maintenance
responsibilities for the Statewide Voter Registration System
from municipal clerks to the GAB.
I strongly believe that it should be easy to vote and hard to
commit fraud. Step by step, I hope our reforms strike the right
balance between voter access and costs to local government.
Voting is not only a right, it's a responsibility, and updating
our process to accommodate both of those components is
important. Passing laws that assure election integrity is as big
a priority as making laws to assure order and consistency across
our state when it comes to voting.