Policy Committee Approves Bill to Provide More Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

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Diana.Crofts-Pelayo@sen.ca.gov / 916-651-4022 (office) / 619-820-9989 (cell)

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Health Committee passed Senate Bill 1023, which will expand access to sexual and reproductive health services by ensuring coverage of telehealth, by a bipartisan vote of 8-0.

Authored by Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D., (D-West Covina), Senate Bill 1023 brings together new technologies and sexual and reproductive health care, such as hormonal birth control and STD testing and treatment, to improve access to these services. Telehealth is changing the way health practitioners provide essential services and how patients can access them.

“Telehealth allows providers to reach communities that have been left behind,” said Senator Hernandez. “SB 1023 ensures access to sexual and reproductive care though new, innovative approaches.”

Phone, video consultation and mobile apps are deeply valuable because they help eliminate geographic barriers to care and can improve access in rural and low-income communities.

“California has a long history of leadership in enacting policy solutions that reduce barriers to sexual and reproductive health care,” said Julie Rabinovitz, President and CEO, Essential Access Health. “We are proud to partner with Senator Hernandez to continue to expand access in our state by leveraging technology to meet people where they are, on their phones. SB 1023 seeks to make the convenience of mobile telehealth for sexual and reproductive health care in reach for all Californians.”

Rates of sexually transmitted diseases are at a historic high. If left undetected and untreated, STDs can lead to serious long-term health conditions including cancer, blindness, and infertility, and add significant costs and burdens to our health system.

In addition, California has made significant gains in reducing unintended pregnancy rates over the past two decades, thanks to a combination of public policy and program innovations that have increased access to reproductive health care. However, California’s unintended pregnancy rates remain high and geographic and ethnic disparities are still an issue.

SB 1023 does the following:

  • Clarifies that Medi-Cal managed care and commercial insurers may cover sexual and reproductive health services that are provided appropriately through telehealth according to clinical guidelines.
  • Requires Family PACT to provide appropriate sexual and reproductive health services through telehealth when appropriate according to clinical guidelines.
  • Permits Family PACT providers to determine client eligibility and enroll clients in the program online.

SB 1023 now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Read the SB 1023 bill language.

Read the SB 1023 fact sheet.