CSAM Legislative “Walk the Halls” Day

CSAM members “walked the halls” of the State Capitol in Sacramento on April 9, where they met with California legislators and their staff to discuss crucial bills making their way through the legislative process. CSAM Members Soraya Azari, MD, Delani Gunawardena, MD, Randy Holmes, MD, Raheel Khan, MD, Dymon Morgan, MD, (UCSF Fellow), Manu Saini, MD, and CSAM Legislative Advocate Robert Harris all took part in educating our elected officials. The group was able to meet with eight legislators and staff that include:

  • Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside) – met with staff
  • Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno)
  • Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) – met with staff
  • Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) – met with staff
  • Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) – met with staff
  • Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-San Diego) – met with staff
  • Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and – met with staff
  • Assemblymember Dr. Jasmine Bains (D-Delano).

There were three main bills that were discussed, all of which CSAM supports:

AB 2651 (Bains) Support

AB 2651 would create, upon appropriation by the Legislature, the Licensed Alcohol Drug Counselor Board within the Department of Consumer Affairs. The bill would require the board to establish regulations and standards for the licensure of alcohol drug counselors, as specified. The bill would authorize the board to collaborate with the Department of Health Care Access and Information regarding behavioral health professions, review sunrise review applications for emerging behavioral health license and certification programs and refer complaints regarding behavioral health workers to appropriate agencies, as specified.

AB 2115 (Haney) Support

Under current law, specified clinics, including surgical clinics, may purchase drugs at wholesale for administration or dispensing to the clinic’s patients. Current law requires these clinics to maintain certain records and to obtain a license from the board. Current law prohibits specified substances from being dispensed by a nonprofit or free clinic, as defined. AB 2115 would authorize a nonprofit or free clinic to dispense a narcotic drug for the purpose of relieving acute withdrawal symptoms while arrangements are being made for referral for treatment, as described, and would require the clinic dispensing the narcotic to be subject to specified labeling and recordkeeping requirements. Because the bill would specify additional requirements under the Pharmacy Law, a violation of which would be a crime, it would impose a state-mandated local program.

AB 1842 (Reyes) Support

Current law authorizes health care service plans and health insurers that cover prescription drugs to utilize reasonable medical management practices, including prior authorization and step therapy, consistent with applicable law. AB 1842 would prohibit a medical service plan and a health insurer from subjecting a naloxone product or another opioid antagonist approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, or a buprenorphine product or long-acting injectable naltrexone for detoxification or maintenance treatment of a substance use disorder, to prior authorization or step therapy. Because a willful violation of these provisions by a health care service plan would be a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

All in all, it was a successful day of advocating for our profession and patients. As we all know, addiction medicine is a complex and challenging field that requires a deep understanding. That is why it is vital to have a Legislative Day where we can meet face to face with key legislators that shape the policies and regulations in the field of medicine. Thank you to all of the CSAM members that attended, and we hope to see you again next year!

Randy Holmes, MD, FAAFP, DFASAM
Chair, Committee on Government Affairs