Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, has announced that her bill, Modernizing Healthcare Access in California (Assembly Bill 1697), was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The legislation reduces administrative barriers to health care access that patients face in authorizing medical providers or sharing their medical history by giving equal legal weight to electronic signatures, according to a news release from Schiavo’s office.
“Patients deserve timely health care and having to sign a paper form should never be a barrier that delays care,” Schiavo said in the release. “Our bill, which was just signed by the governor, acknowledges the progress we have made in online transactions and digital security, and ensures patients receive prompt care without compromising their security or delaying access to health care. This bill brings California into current day technology, saving Californians time, money and frustration so they can focus on getting the care they need.”
Over the course of the pandemic, telehealth created an invaluable link for many to timely access to health care, the release said. The Government Accountability Office found that telehealth use among Medicaid beneficiaries increased fifteenfold in 2021.
“However, as these appointments increasingly occur online, the need for a physical signature on necessary medical release forms has created a new and unnecessary barrier to accessing health care,” the release said, adding that requiring signatures at a facility during business hours from individuals with inflexible schedules, or requiring a signature via mail, can delay needed care unnecessarily.
AB1697 removes those barriers.