Vaccines, immigrants and right-to-die

Several controversial health-related bills moved forward by state lawmakers

State Sen. Lois Wolk

State Sen. Lois Wolk

California lawmakers advanced several major health-related bills on May 28, including measures related to childhood vaccine requirements, granting health care coverage to more than 1 million undocumented immigrants, and physician-assisted suicide.

Senate Bill 277, which would end the personal belief exemption allowing parents to opt their children out of immunization and require that all schoolchildren in the state be fully vaccinated, now goes before the Assembly Committee on Health following approval by the Senate in May, according to The Sacramento Bee. If it clears the committee, SB 277 would still require approval by the full Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown to become law. (Brown hasn't taken a stance on the bill, though he has touted the benefits of vaccination.)

The Senate also revived Senate Bill 128, which would allow some terminally ill patients—those who have six or fewer months to live—to end their lives with lethal doses of medication. The bill is being fought by various religious and medical organizations, though the California Medical Association recently dropped its opposition. It now heads for a Senate vote.

“We are one step closer to ensuring Californians have access to all options when they are facing the end of life,” said Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who co-authored the bill.

Meanwhile, the measure that would offer state-subsidized health care coverage to undocumented immigrants, Senate Bill 4, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, albeit in an altered state, according to the Los Angeles Times. Rather than extend Medi-Cal to all undocumented immigrants, the amended legislation would offer the same coverage but the number of people who could sign up would depend on the state budget and could vary by year.

The revised SB 4 would also extend Medi-Cal to people under the age of 19 and allow higher-income adults who are in the country illegally to purchase coverage through the state's health insurance exchange, Covered California—pending permission from the federal government.