California women will be able to make fewer trips to the pharmacy to pick up birth control under a new law.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday he has signed SB999 to allow pharmacists to dispense 12 months of hormonal contraceptives at a time, up from the current three-month limit.
It also requires insurance companies to cover a year's supply of doctor-prescribed birth control.
The bill's author, Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills, says women are smart enough to carefully use the drugs appropriately.
Pavley and other supporters say longer supplies will reduce skipped doses and prevent unintended pregnancies and abortions.
Health insurance associations oppose the change, saying it could result in duplicate coverage by different insurers and more wasted medication.
It takes effect on Jan. 1.
Surprise medical bills
Another piece of legislation approved by Gov. Brown on Friday, AB72 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Alameda, seeks to stop surprise medical bills from doctors not covered by a patient's health plan.
Unions and patient advocacy groups say patients shouldn't face massive bills if they visit a hospital that accepts their insurance but are treated by a doctor who doesn't. Unexpected bills commonly come from radiologists, pathologists and anesthesiologists who get involved in diagnosing or caring for hospitalized patients.
The law will establish a rate for doctors to be paid in such circumstances and creates an independent review board to resolve disagreements.
Similar legislation died on the last day of the legislative session last year. It was revived after lawmakers increased the default payment for out-of-network doctors.