BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                     AB 796

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          796 (Nazarian)

          As Amended  August 16, 2016

          Majority vote

          |ASSEMBLY:  |75-0  |(January 25,   |SENATE: |39-0  |(August 24,      |
          |           |      |2016)          |        |      |2016)            |
          |           |      |               |        |      |                 |
          |           |      |               |        |      |                 |

          Original Committee Reference:  B. & P.

          SUMMARY:  Requires the Board of Psychology (BOP) to convene a  
          committee to create a list of evidence-based treatment  
          modalities for purposes of developing mandated behavioral health  
          treatment (BHT) modalities for pervasive development disorder or  
          autism (PDD/A).  Extends the sunset provisions requiring health  
          care service plans to provide health coverage for BHT for PDD/A  
          to January 1, 2022.

          The Senate amendments delete provisions that require the BOP to  
          convene a committee to create a list of evidence-based treatment  
          modalities for purposes of developing mandated BHT modalities  
          for PDD/A, add clarifying amendments regarding the definition of  
          a qualified autism service professional, and delete the January  
          1, 2017 sunset provisions requiring health care service plans to  
          provide health coverage for BHT for PDD/A.


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          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Senate Appropriations  

          1)One-time costs of about $50,000 and ongoing costs of $15,000  
            per year to review health plan filings for compliance with the  
            requirements of the bill and to undertake any necessary  
            enforcement actions by the Department of Managed Health Care  
            (Managed Care Fund).

          2)Likely costs of less than $100,000 per year for review of  
            health insurance plan filings and enforcement actions by the  
            Department of Insurance (Insurance Fund).

          3)No state costs are anticipated due to the elimination of the  
            existing sunset on the benefit mandate.  Current law exempts  
            Medi-Cal managed care plans and the California Public  
            Employees' Retirement System coverage from the benefit  
            mandate.  This bill does not eliminate those exemptions.

            While existing law specifically mandates coverage for  
            behavioral health treatment, separate federal and state mental  
            health parity requirements and requirements for the provision  
            of essential health benefits implicitly require coverage for  
            behavioral health treatment for autism and related disorders.   
            Therefore, elimination of the statutory sunset will not  
            materially impact coverage for behavioral health treatment.   
            Nor will eliminating the sunset require the state to pay for  
            the costs to subsidize coverage for behavioral health  
            treatment coverage for subsidized Covered California plans.

          COMMENTS:  According to the author, this bill recognizes that  
          there is no one size fits all BHT for an individual diagnosed  
          with autism.  Every child on the autism spectrum presents  
          differently, as such treatment options must reflect that  
          spectrum.  The author states that this bill ensures children  
          diagnosed with autism will receive insurance coverage for the  
          type of evidence-based BHT that is right and selected for them  


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          by the medical professional that knows the child best.

          1)DMHC Autism Advisory Task Force.  SB 946 (Steinberg), Chapter  
            650, Statutes of 2011, requires DMHC to convene an Autism  
            Advisory Task Force (Task Force) by February 1, 2012, to  
            develop recommendations regarding medically necessary BHT for  
            individuals with PDD/A, as well as the appropriate  
            qualifications, training, and supervision for providers of  
            such treatment.  SB 946 also requires the Task Force to  
            develop recommendations regarding the education, training, and  
            experience requirements that unlicensed individuals providing  
            BHT must meet in order to obtain licensure from the state.   
            The Task Force consisted of 18 members including research  
            experts, treating providers, health plan representatives,  
            consumer advocates, and members-at-large, many of whom were  
            also parents of individuals with PDD/A.

            The Task Force concluded that behavioral health interventions  
            need to be highly individualized and that treatment selection  
            should be made by a team of individuals who can consider the  
            unique needs and history of the individual with PDD/A.  The  
            Task Force determined that it would not be informative to  
            state policy makers to merely develop a list of BHTs that are  
            determined to be effective, based solely on current scientific  

          2)Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Autism.  PDD/As are  
            neurodevelopmental disorders that typically become symptomatic  
            in children aged two to three years.  They are chronic  
            conditions characterized by impairments in social  
            interactions, communication, sensory processing, repetitive  
            behaviors or interests, and sometimes cognitive function.   
            Symptoms range from mild to severe, as reflected by the phrase  
            "autism spectrum disorders" (ASD).  The California Health  
            Benefits Review Program estimates that approximately 87,000  
            Californians have PDD/A.  Many persons with PDD/A (primarily  
            children) are treated with Intensive Behavioral Intervention  
            Therapy, which aim to improve behavior, cognitive function,  
            language, and social skills.


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          3)Behavioral Health Treatment.  Behavior analysis focuses on the  
            principles that explain how learning takes place.  Positive  
            reinforcement is one such principle.  When a behavior is  
            followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely  
            to be repeated.  Through decades of research, the field of  
            behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing  
            useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or  
            interfere with learning.  Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is  
            the use of these techniques and principles to bring about  
            meaningful and positive change in behavior.  ABA emerged in  
            the early 1960's as a treatment therapy and is therefore one  
            of the most researched and recognized therapies.  However,  
            PDD/A is a complex disorder that impacts every child  
            differently and typically involves more than one type of  
            treatment therapy, of which there are many.  Other therapies  
            include the Early Start Denver Model, a developmental,  
            relationship-based intervention approach that utilizes  
            teaching techniques consistent with ABA, Developmental,  
            Individual-differences, & Relationship-based Floortime  
            (DIR/Floortime) a specific technique to both follow the  
            child's natural emotional interests and at the same time  
            challenge the child towards mastery of the social, emotional,  
            and intellectual capacities. 

          Hundreds of individuals writing in support of a previous version  
          of this bill state that by requiring frontline providers to be  
          vendored by the regional centers, SB 946 limits treatment for  
          ASD to only one therapy, ABA.  This bill would apply the same  
          level of requirements to other evidence-based forms of therapy  
          and will allow parents the opportunity to receive insurance  
          coverage for the BHT that is the most appropriate for their  

          The DIR/Floortime Coalition of California writes in strong  
          support to a previous version of the bill that by allowing  
          frontline personnel trained in the specific form of treatment  
          contained within the scope of the treatment plan developed by  
          their physician or psychologist, parents, and treatment  


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          providers will be able to seek the most appropriate treatment  
          for their child with Autism. 

          Center for Autism & Related Disorders (CARD) states in  
          opposition to a previous version of this bill, that it will  
          amend California's landmark autism mandate to expand the  
          definition of "qualified autism service professional" to include  
          individuals who are not qualified to provide evidence-based BHT  
          and who were never intended to be included in the definition of  
          qualified autism service professional.  CARD argues that the  
          effectiveness of evidence-based autism treatment requires  
          trained and experienced individuals to oversee and implement it.

          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Paula Villescaz / HEALTH / (916) 319-2097  FN: