Tuesday, September 8, 2015

California Assembly to vote on diminished bill package to curb psychotropic drug use on foster children

By Karen de Sá kdesa

With less than a week left before the end of the legislative session, intensive lobbying by physicians groups and cost concerns have undermined progress on the centerpiece of a bill package designed to end the excessive use of psychotropic drugs on California's foster youth. 

The bills scheduled for the Assembly floor as early as Tuesday have already been whittled down through amendments and the sting of budget realities.

Now, the author of Senate Bill 253 -- which would strengthen court oversight of foster care prescribing and demand more safety measures from doctors -- has pulled his legislation back from consideration this year. State Sen. Bill Monning's bill passed the Senate unanimously but won't go through the Assembly until next year, while three other bills inspired by the newspaper's investigation "Drugging Our Kids" move toward Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. The Democrat from Carmel says his action represents only a temporary delay while he smooths out sticking points with the Brown administration, allowing time to relaunch the bill in January with a better guarantee of passage. But advocates fear the heart of the hard-fought reforms may now be in jeopardy.

"SB 253 is really key -- it's the linchpin of this whole package because the courts are the gatekeepers, and if the gatekeepers are not doing their job, everything else is not going to come together to solve the problem," said Bill Grimm, senior attorney with the National Center for Youth Law, a major backer of the bills. "The opposition that's been mounted by the medical community is unconscionable."

Monning's bill is supported by the state's Judicial Council, but opposition has been building: On Wednesday, the California Medical Association, the California Psychiatric Association, the California Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, representing residential group homes, released a surprising last-minute "Assembly floor alert" calling for a no vote.

The groups charge the bill would hamstring doctors by requiring proof to the juvenile court that they had reviewed foster children's medical records, obtained lab results, and confirmed there were no "less invasive" treatments available. The physicians also balk at being subject to second medical opinions, which under Monning's bill would be triggered by requests for multiple medications or prescriptions for kids ages 5 and younger.

According to filings with the California Secretary of State, the groups opposing the bill have spent more than $1.4 million between Jan. 1 and June 30 lobbying the Legislature, an amount equal to more than $11,000 per business day. The alliance representing residential facilities alone spent more than $325,000.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
California Assembly to vote on diminished bill package to curb psychotropic drug use on foster children

1 comment:

Betty said...

I hope this goes through, not only for the foster children but for the elderly who will come later if this bill passes. We live in a "child first" society, so if it passes for children, then the elderly might have a better chance.