Valley Fever and Opioid Epidemic Legislation Pass First Committees

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

AB 1790 and AB 2861 approved with bi-partisan support

SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, two public health bills authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) that seek to improve the timely and accurate diagnosis of Valley Fever and increase rural access to substance use disorder treatment were approved with bi-partisan support in the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions and the Assembly Committee on Health, respectively.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1790 – or the Valley Fever Education, Early Diagnosis, and Treatment Act – will create uniform protocols and procedures for educating healthcare providers about the diagnosis, surveillance and treatment of Valley Fever.

“Diagnosing Valley Fever early and accurately leads to better health outcomes and saves lives,” said Assemblymember Salas. “By requiring healthcare providers to be educated about Valley Fever symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, doctors and hospitals will have the tools they need to help people with Valley Fever.”

Misdiagnosis of Valley Fever is frequently cited by researchers, physicians and patients as one of the biggest challenges posed by the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 to 80 percent of patients with Valley Fever are given one or more rounds of antibiotics before receiving a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If Valley Fever is not treated early, it can spread beyond the lungs into other organs and become extremely debilitating or, in the most severe cases, life threatening.

AB 2861 will help address the opioid epidemic. This bill will increase critical access to addiction treatment for low-income and rural communities by requiring Medi-Cal reimbursement for substance use disorder treatment services delivered via telehealth.

“The opioid epidemic has ravaged communities and ruined the lives of too many families. For those seeking treatment, we need to ensure that they have timely access,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Telehealth is an innovative way to remove barriers for people seeking help from addiction specialists.”

Low-income and rural communities face the greatest barriers to treatment access. At a time when drug overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, this bill would extend the benefits of telehealth services for all California residents to help ensure access to substance use disorder treatment.

Together, AB 1790 and AB 2861 would help improve public health in rural counties and throughout the state for two pressing public health concerns, namely Valley Fever and opioid abuse.  

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