Gov. Gavin Newsom says he is likely to support a bill dealing with medical exemptions of vaccines required for children to attend California schools.

Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) authored SB 276, which would place government oversight on doctors who write exemptions.

The proposed law would require the state health department to review exemptions of schools with an immunization rate of less than 95%, or doctors who grant five or more exemptions per calendar year. The bill also creates a standardized form for doctors to use when filling out exemptions.

Children are required to receive vaccinations to attend public or private schools. The bill does not apply to home-schooled students.

Currently, there is no automatic review process of doctors granting exemptions. Pan and Newsom say that the exemptions are being abused. During his testimony at Senate and Assembly hearings, Pan noted social media ads posted by some doctors to grant exemptions for a fee without ever examining the child.

Newsom Working on Amendments

“I’m just opposed to abuses. People have legitimate issues. Those legitimate issues should be addressed.”Gov. Gavin Newsom on SB 276

Asked about his support for the bill at a stop in recently in Fresno County, Newsom said he was working with Pan on amendments to the bill.

A recent change to the bill struck a section that now no longer mandates that prior exemptions be examined by state or local officials  — even if they are suspected of being fraudulent or not meeting standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and other groups.

“The bill before amended would be challenging to implement. We made a series of recommendations. They accepted those recommendations,” Newsom said. “We’re making progress on it. I don’t want to conclude where I’ll land on it.”

Newsom said Pan was “generous” in accepting proposed amendments.

“It took a lot from our administration, which suggests I’m more inclined to support it,” Newsom said.

When asked about parents opposing the bill, Newsom said he understood the concern.

“I’m just opposed to abuses. People have legitimate issues. Those legitimate issues should be addressed,” Newsom said, noting friends have told him about their need for exemptions.

Pan’s office did not reply to GV Wire’s request for comment.

Vociferous Opponents

At every step of the bill, opponents rallied and testified for hours during hearings at the Capitol. The groups range from parents concerned about vaccine safety, celebrity activist like Robert Kennedy, Jr., and the medical profession, most notably Dr. Bob Sears, the Orange County physician being examined by state authorities for granting exemptions.

Among the concerns brought up at the health committees of both chambers, was that SB 276 would negatively alter the doctor-patient relationship. Parents also told stories about injuries suffered by their children from vaccinations, calling into question the safety and testing of such vaccines.

Initially motivated by the 2015 incident of measles among Disneyland visitors, Pan authored SB 277, which eliminated the personal belief exemption to vaccines. That led to an increase in medical exemptions, which made Pan suspicious.

The senator said doctors acted unscrupulously by offering exemptions without properly examining patients. He also questioned the medical necessity of exemptions.

Pan, and his supporters, testified that SB 276 closes those loopholes, ensuring all medical exemptions are legitimate.

Bill’s Status

The bill sits in the Assembly appropriations committee in the suspense file, placed there because of its estimated price tag of $3 million annually to implement. The committee is expected to vote on bills in the suspense file, as to whether they continue or die, on Aug. 29.

If the bill passes out of appropriations, it is expected to go to the full Assembly for a vote.

Correction, 8/03/2019: a prior version of the story indicated an amendment to the bill would “grandfather” exemptions.

As a point of clarification, the stricken section of law would no longer mandate that prior exemptions be examined by state officials. However, as many readers of the story pointed out, that does not necessarily “grandfather” prior exemptions.


11 Responses

  1. Yvette

    However, the amendments still do not work. The language of family history is in the bill,but nothing that says family history is still a factor in receiving a n exemption. Also, my child’s lifelong pediatrician, who gave my child a temp. ME, will no longer wrote me a perm. ME because he is afraid of getting his liscence taken away, if he gives my child a Perm.ME spacificly for family history.
    So how have YOU actually helped with amendments on this bill?

    Reply
    • Emma

      The new law would retroactively revoke exemptions written before the proposed law due to them removing family history and only going against a few CDC guidelines. Previous exemptions will not be exempt and dozens of THOUSANDS of children will have to be taken out of school. These children have exemptions for a reason. We will not go against our doctors opinions!!!

      Reply
  2. John Bowman

    Total lie, NOTHING will be grandfathered. ALL exemptions have to be resubmitted to show compliance with Trump’s CDC guidelines, and 95% will be rejected.

    Reply
    • JNC

      Think it’s a typo, but President Trump has nothing to do with this. It’s all Senator Pan. Senator Pan has had a very abnormal obsession with mandatory vaccinations since he came into office. His ties with the Pharmaceutical industry run deep.

      Reply
      • John Bowman

        I agree Pan is the one pushing this horrible bill, but he also wrote it to severely limit exemptions to those contraindications listed by the Federal CDC. Trump is the chief executive in charge of the federal CDC. Trump could have had those CDC limitations expanded but has not. Or Pan could have used exemptions developed by a California medical commission but didn’t.
        So it seems pharma owns both parties and this is national bi partisan Fascist effort to take away our lives and liberty.

  3. John Bowman

    ANOTHER LIE. ALL exemptions are only granted after a long physical examination, many tests, and review of medical history. Much more involved and detailed than any “well visit” exam.
    Pan just hates medically fragile children, I guess $250,000 in pharma payoffs does that to people.

    Reply
  4. Stephanie

    There is no “grandfathering in” of already existing medical exemptions in the current bill. That is inaccurate if you read the extremely long, misleading bill. There is no true family history once it is tied to standard of care, as it is now with the amendments. The only family history is for 2 vaccines (MMR and Varicella) and ONLY if there is a specific autoimmune disorder which is specified under CDC/ACIP/AAP guidelines. Newsom’s heart is in the right place, but he is not being given the complete truth about what family history will actually accepted under these VERY narrow and dangerous new guidelines. Start over with a targeted bill!

    Reply
  5. JNC

    “A recent change to the bill allows the “grandfathering” of current exemptions — even if they are suspected of being fraudulent or not meeting standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and other groups.” THIS STATEMENT IS NOT TRUE.
    SB276 as it is currently written requires all Medical Exemptions currently written to be submitted by Jan 2021 to be “reviewed”. They can at that time be deemed fraudulent. This is far from being protected as “grandfathered in”. Please correct your article. SB276 is an invasive, restrictive and very expensive bill that is not needed. Is a massive overstep of government power. The State of California has no right to interfere with the judgement of a licensed California Physician. It further retroactively changes an existing law and penalizes those that followed the existing law of SB277. It is a horrible bill. It is hard to believe something like this could even be conceived, much less become a law.

    Reply
  6. D

    This bill will likely close our private school after 60 years of operation and not a single outbreak.

    Reply
  7. Heather Widen

    The amendments the governor asked for were supposed to give a broader scope to medical exceptions but they do not. The reasons given for medical exemptions are way too narrow – they don’t even include if a child has a titers test positive for antibodies, or if child has conditions contraindicated in a vaccine insert sheet. Note in Japan, they banned MMR and only give MR because they found MMR caused too many injuries – and here they want to mandate it? Cannot mandate people to take a medical risk. Doctor patient relationship, medical and educational rights must be preserved. No on SB276

    Reply
  8. Natalie

    He wants to address legitimate issues of children . Unfortunately, if you are the six child that requires a medical exemption you’re screwed.

    Reply

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