Legislature Passes Bill to Preserve Health Care for Wildfire Victims

Thursday, August 9, 2018

SACRAMENTO – The Legislature has unanimously approved Assembly Bill 2941, authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), to ensure that victims of wildfires and other natural disasters have continued access to health care.

“The passage of this bill could not be timelier as wildfires rage throughout our state. Every Californian deserves the assurance that their health care needs will be met during a state of emergency,” said Berman.

Under the bill, health plans and health insurers would be required to provide access to medically necessary health care services to patients who have been displaced by a Governor-declared state of emergency. If signed into the law, health plans and health insurers could authorize care to be provided by an out-of-network provider, extend filing deadlines for claims, suspend prescription refill limitations and allow prescriptions to be refilled at an out-of-network pharmacy, relax time limits for referrals, and allow for medical equipment or supplies to be replaced.

In the last month, Governor Brown has declared six states of emergency in nine counties due to wildfires. In 2017, Governor Brown declared 14 states of emergency in 18 counties due to wildfires that tore through the state destroying homes, threatening critical infrastructure, and displacing over a hundred thousand residents.

AB 2941 recognizes the importance of consistent health care coverage for patients with chronic conditions as well as those with injuries and illnesses caused directly by the wildfires and other natural disasters, and will ensure that they have continued access to medically necessary health care services.

The bill now awaits Governor Brown’s signature.

Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024