SAN DIEGO (KSWB) — A bill that would protect California health care providers who offer abortion and gender-affirming care from insurance penalties if they are punished by a state with restrictions on these services is heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
Senate Bill 487, introduced by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), passed the Senate in a 31-8 concurrence vote on Monday.
The bill would prevent the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, and other health insurers from ending contracts with healthcare providers solely based on a civil judgement, criminal conviction or other disciplinary action taken by another state based on providing care that is lawful in California.
It would also prohibit a health care service plan or insurer from discriminating or refusing to contract with providers who are sanctioned by states with restrictions on health care services.
“Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, California has stepped up to provide reproductive and gender-affirming care to the increasing number of patients coming here from states that have cut access to these essential medical services,” Atkins said in a press release. “This bill is about protecting access by protecting the providers, and ensures that they can continue to provide critical reproductive care here, where it is legal and enshrined in our state constitution.”
According to a recent study from the Guttmacher Institute, reproductive care providers in states that have protections for abortion access have seen a rise in the number of people seeking that care, underscoring the rapid shift in access since the Dobbs v. Jackson decision last year.
Researchers found that states that border those with restrictions — like Kansas, New Mexico and Wyoming — have seen a roughly 114 to 220% increase in the number of abortions performed since 2020. According to the study, California also had an increase in the number of abortions provided during this time by about 12,300, or 16%.
On a county level across the state, officials say some providers reported as much as a three-fold increase in the number of patients they’re seeing for reproductive care during first three months following the Dobbs decision.
SB 487 is one of two reproductive access bills Atkins authored this year, both of which are now headed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. The other bill, Senate Bill 385, would expand and modernize reproductive care training for physician assistants to increase the number of providers in California.
Last year, Atkins also penned SCA 10, the constitutional amendment that created Proposition 1 to enshrine the right to abortion and contraceptives in the California constitution. In the 2022 midterm election, Prop 1 passed with roughly 67% of the vote.
Gov. Newsom has until Oct. 14 to either sign or veto the law.