Legislature Passes Sen. Dodd’s Hospital Pandemic/Emergency Response Bill

Thursday, August 25, 2022

SACRAMENTO – With pressures mounting on California hospitals from the pandemic and other emergencies, the state Legislature approved a bill from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help these medical institutions respond to public health crises and ensure patients get the care they need.

“The pandemic, destructive wildfires and other natural disasters have been hard on California hospitals,” Sen. Dodd said.  “When a public emergency strikes, hospitals need to be able to respond, adapting to fast-changing conditions to serve patients as quickly as possible. This bill will help them do that. I thank my fellow lawmakers for approving this commonsense measure.”

Sen. Dodd’s bill, Senate Bill 979, relaxes insurance restrictions for patients seeking treatment outside of their network coverage areas, ensuring they get medical coverage wherever an emergency hits. It is sponsored by the California Hospital Association.

SB 979 passed the Senate this week with unanimous support after previously being approved by the Assembly. It heads next to Gov. Gavin Newsom for a signature.

“The ability of patients to access vital health care services during natural disasters and public health emergencies has taken an important step forward thanks to the Legislature’s approval of SB 979,” said Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association. “SB 979 will help ensure that insurance companies and health plans put the needs of patients first by relaxing restrictions on prior authorizations for treatment, suspending limitation on prescription refills and giving emergency health care providers other necessary flexibilities in the event of a widespread crisis.”


Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.