Release: Free Choice in Family Planning Act Heads to Governor’s Desk

September 19, 2017

Senator Hernandez’ SB 743 Seeks to Protect Reproductive Health Access in Trump Era

SACRAMENTOSenate Bill 743, the Freedom of Choice in Family Planning Act, cleared the California State Legislature last week and is heading to the Governor’s desk. The measure, authored by Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D., (D-West Covina) and co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and Essential Access Health, would ensure that millions of Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal managed care plans will continue to access essential health services like time-sensitive contraception and STD testing and treatment from providers they trust for high quality care. This is particularly important for women who need appointments without delay and have concerns about confidentiality.

“It is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to ensure Californians have the access to family planning services. We can’t take anything for granted given some uncertainty with our health care at the federal level,” said Senator Hernandez, chair of the Senate Health Committee. “SB 743 gives Californians a sense of security to get care from a provider they feel most comfortable with. These providers like Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics serve our residents locally on a variety of health care-related issues.  I thank Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and Essential Access Health for their diligent work on this issue and helping to protect everyone’s choice of qualified Medicaid provider.”

California has a long history of protecting and improving women’s health. These protections are more important than ever as Congress and the Trump administration move to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. If signed into law, SB 743 will protect women from restrictions by ensuring that Californians do not lose their long-standing ability to access family planning and related services from their provider of choice, in or out of their Medi-Cal plan network.

As Medicaid managed care began to grow in the 1980's, many Californians enrolled in Medicaid managed care plans sought family planning care out of network. To promote access, Congress passed laws and rules that not only allowed Medicaid enrollees to obtain family planning services from any qualified, willing provider who accepted Medicaid patients, but also to have direct access to those providers. For decades, California has implemented these federal rules under the Department of Health Care Services through “All Plan” letters and contract language.

“Imagine running out of birth control or finding a lump in your breast and then learning that your local Planned Parenthood, the provider you’ve trusted for years, is no longer eligible to serve you,” said Crystal Strait, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “This could be the stark new reality for millions across California without the protections of SB 743.”

"Birth control care is personal and time sensitive," said Amy Moy, Vice President of Public Affairs at Essential Access Health. "SB 743 is way for California to hold the line against federal efforts to restrict women’s health and continue to lead the nation in advancing policies that promote access and protect patient choice.”

SB 743 now heads to Governor Brown for signature. He has until October 15th to sign the measure into law.

Learn more about SB 743 here:

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Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D., proudly represents California’s 22nd Senate District and is chair of the Senate Health Committee.

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) is the state public policy office representing California’s seven separately incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates. Through advocacy and electoral action, PPAC promotes sound public policy in areas of reproductive and preventive health care, family planning and comprehensive sexual health education.

Essential Access Health (Essential Access) champions and promotes quality sexual and reproductive health care for all. Essential Access achieves its mission through an umbrella of programs and services, including health center support initiatives, provider training, advanced clinical research, public policy and outreach, and awareness campaigns. As the administrator of the nation’s largest and most diverse Title X system in the country, Essential Access partners with a diverse provider network that collectively serves over 1,000,000 women, men, and teens each year at nearly 380 health centers across California.