Beall’s Bills Bring Help During Tough Times

May 29, 2009
Contact: Rodney Foo @ (408) 282-8920

Key bills introduced by Assemblymember Jim Beall Jr., D-San Jose that would increase access to mental heath treatment, reduce incidences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and improve the seismic safety of hospitals while creating jobs were passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“These bills will help ensure a healthier California and they will save our state millions of dollars in the long run,’’ said Beall, chairman of the Assembly Human Services Committee.

The bills that are on their way to the Assembly floor are:

  • AB 303 / Hospital Seismic Safety Financing – Almost half of the state’s hospitals appear unlikely to meet deadlines to bring their facilities up to seismic standards that were adopted following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. AB 303 allows specified hospitals to substitute local funds in lieu of state money to receive federal matching funds to finance upgrades and spur new jobs.
  • AB 217 / Screening and Brief Intervention – About one in 12 pregnant women admit to drinking alcohol and one in 30 say they had engaged in binge drinking, according to U.S. Center for Disease Control findings. AB 217 is designed to cut down incidences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the number one cause of preventable birth defects, in babies, by letting counties choose to obtain federal matching funds in order to finance the screening for substance use and a brief intervention for positive screens. A recent Kaiser evaluation of nearly 40,000 pregnant mothers who were screened showed a $1,500 in neonatal intensive care unit and assisted ventilator cost savings per newborn.
  • AB 244 / Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity – This legislation requires health insurers to cover mental disorders and substance abuse issues equitable to the coverage provided for other medical illnesses. AB 244 goes further than federal legislation by mandating all insurers in California to provide parity coverage. There is no cost to taxpayers under this bill. “This bill corrects a serious discrimination problem that bankrupts families and causes enormous taxpayer expense,’’ Beall said.

Other legislation introduced by Beall that were passed out of the Appropriations Committee includes:

  • AB 1058 / CalWorks Eligibility – Amends personal asset limits for working families with very low incomes who are eligible for CalWorks benefits.
  • AB 324 / Elder Economic Security Standard Index – Modernizes the income standard index used by state and local jurisdictions to accurately measure poverty in planning for the needs of California’s growing senior population.