Cottie Petrie-Norris

AB 1264 clarifies vague telehealth law for patients

Building on the state’s historic $100 million investment in reproductive health in the 2019-20 state budget, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed into law Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris’ AB 1264, which clarifies vague telehealth law in order to reduce medically unnecessary barriers to telehealth prescribing, including oral contraceptives.

“As other states and the federal government go backward, restricting reproductive freedom, in California we are moving forward, expanding access and reaffirming a woman’s right choose,” said Governor Newsom. “We’re removing barriers to reproductive health – increasing access on college campuses and using technology to modernize how patients interact with providers.”

“Birth control allows people to choose if and when to start a family and historically has afforded women more economic freedom,” said Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “It is paramount that women have access to the resources necessary to carefully plan a family as they see fit.”

New technologies make it easier to provide access to healthcare. Our laws must reflect this, and must assist medical professionals in harnessing these opportunities. One example includes Planned Parenthood’s PPDirect, which expands access to birth control by prescribing contraceptives via a smartphone app.

Prior to AB 1264, patients had to first schedule a live video-conference with a medical professional to be able to receive birth control. Doctors have found that this barrier to care is medically unnecessary – and it is not a requirement in the 20 other states where PPDirect is deployed. It is estimated that half of patients do not fulfill this specification and are thus ineligible to receive contraception.

AB 1264 clarifies that a simultaneous video visit is not a requirement for telehealth prescribing, provided that the alternative process is consistent with the accepted standard of care. As telehealth evolves, it is incumbent upon us to update our code sections to reflect our changing technology and reduce arbitrary barriers to care, and AB 1264 does just that.

Sponsoring the bill, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California CEO and President Jodi Hicks said, “California is leading the way—once again—to expand, not ban, access to care. Governor Newsom signing AB 1264 into law, authored by Orange County Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, breaks down unnecessary barriers to essential reproductive health care services, like birth control. This law will ensure the virtual door remains open to address the unmet health care needs of thousands of patients in California who are seeking birth control, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California applauds Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Petrie-Norris’ for their leadership and commitment to expanding access to health care.”

AB 1264 included an urgency clause and became operative immediately. This bill is supported by the California Medical Association and NARAL Pro-Choice California.

This article was released by the Office of Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.