California Assembly Bill (AB) 2179, authored by Assembly Member Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and sponsored by Project Inform, would allow non-medical personnel to become certified hepatitis C test counselors and technicians without first having to become certified HIV test counselors and technicians. The goal of this legislation is to remove some of the barriers that programs are facing to scaling up rapid hepatitis C testing in community-based settings. AB 2179 has made it out of the Assembly Business & Profession and the Health Committees with unanimous votes. It will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in the next few weeks.
On April 18, the Assembly Budget Sub-Committee on Health & Human Services heard Project Inform’s state general fund (SGF) budget proposals. We make these budget proposals in coalition with the California HIV Alliance and the California Hepatitis Alliance (CalHEP). The Senate Budget Sub-Committee on Health & Human Services will hear these requests on May 12. We will know the outcome of this budget advocacy effort by June 15th and will provide an update at that time.
The requests total $6.7 million and include:
- $500,000 in SGF to establish an Interagency Healthcare and Prevention Task Force to address hepatitis C virus (HCV), HIV, sexually transmitted infections and drug use health issues. The task force would be appointed by the Health and Human Services agency and include representatives from California Department of Health Care Services, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Covered California, as well as representatives from affected communities and other key stakeholders. The task force would be charged with increasing collaboration among departments and creating strategic action plans for these conditions.
- Federal and Rebate Funds – Eliminate cost-sharing for individuals enrolled in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program with annual incomes between 400% and 500% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
- Federal and Rebate Funds – Allow the CDPH Office of AIDS Health Insurance Premium Payment Program to cover premiums, copays, coinsurance and deductibles incurred by all eligible people living with HIV/AIDS in California.
- Special Fund – Create an HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) affordability program to cover PrEP-related copays, coinsurance and deductibles incurred by all individuals accessing PrEP in California with annual incomes below 500% of the FPL.
- $4.8 million in SGF – Increase provider reimbursement rates in the AIDS Medi-Cal Waiver Program to be on par with rates for similar home- and community-based services waiver programs.
- $100,000 in SGF – For CDPH to purchase and distribute HBV vaccine to local health jurisdictions to vaccinate high-risk adults.
- $600,000 in SGF – For CDPH to purchase HCV rapid test kits for community-based testing programs.
- $500,000 in SGF – For CDPH to train and certify non-medical personnel to perform rapid HCV and HIV testing in community-based settings.
- $200,000 in SGF – For CDPH to support an organization to provide technical assistance to local governments to increase the number of syringe exchange and disposal programs throughout California and the number of jurisdictions in which syringe exchange and disposal programs are authorized.