Senator Portantino’s Health Package Passes the Legislature and Now Heads to the Governor’s Office

Thursday, September 19 2019

Sacramento, California– Senator Anthony J. Portantino’s (D–La Cañada Flintridge) healthcare package of SB 163, SB 445, and SB 600 has passed the legislature and will now go to the Governor’s Office.

SB 600 will insure health insurance coverage for cancer patients and others fighting diseases through aggressive treatments the option to protect their fertility. SB 163 will eliminate barriers to help patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) access Behavior Health Treatment in California. Lastly, SB 445 would require the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to convene an expert panel as part of an existing advisory body or workshop to advise the department on the development of a statewide system of youth-focused substance use disorder (SUD) treatment program.

SB 600 addresses confusion in the statutory definition of fertility preservation that leaves many patients without coverage.  Senator Portantino has been endeavoring to solve this public health issue for over a decade to help patients have fertility options. The lack of clarity in insurance coverage regulations for these services causes patients to forego fertility preservation treatment. As a result, many have to sacrifice their chance of future parenthood. This bill will make clear that these services are covered benefits so that patients can obtain fertility preservation immediately and focus on their treatment. As a father of two daughters, this issue has long been a passion for the Senator.

“Every day I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity to be a parent but unfortunately many people, due to vague and imprecise health code language, are faced with the heartbreaking decision of curing their cancer or losing their fertility.  This bill will make it abundantly clear that patients will have the opportunity to preserve fertility options prior to chemo and other aggressive treatments,” said Senator Portantino

SB 163 establishes “Luca’s Law,” named after Senator Jeff Stone’s granddaughter, which revises existing requirements on health care service plans and health insurers to cover behavioral health treatment (BHT) for pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) or autism. SB 163 expands the definition of BHT and allows the substitution of specified current education, work experience, and training qualifications to meet the criteria of a qualified autism service (QAS) professional or paraprofessional.


SB 445 establishes the Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults Substance Use Disorder Act. This act would require the department to convene an expert panel to advise DHCS on the development of youth substance use disorder treatment (SUD) standards. In addition, SB 445 authorizes the department to adopt emergency regulations to establish SUD treatment quality standards. Multiple studies have established that adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to alcohol, cannabis, tobacco and other drug-related problems.  Services for youth need to be integrated and wrap-around services are necessary to serve the youth most in need wherever they are in the community – whether it is on the streets, in a homeless shelter, in foster care or group homes, or in schools.