Capitol Alert

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Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation allowing children who are 12 and older to seek medical care to prevent sexually transmitted infections without parental consent, including vaccinations against human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.

Assembly Bill 499, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, was sponsored by public health officials and opposed by parental rights advocates, vaccination opponents and religious and conservative groups.

Randy Thomasson, president of the conservative, said in a prepared statement that Brown "obviously doesn't care about informed consent for patients or parental consent for dads and moms."

Brown, a Democrat, also announced today signing Senate Bill 946, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, requiring health insurance policies to cover certain autism early intervention behavioral therapy.

But in a signing statement, Brown said the mandate will automatically expire if the federal government does not consider the services "essential" in its health care overhaul.

"While this bill provides relief for families of autistic children and some clarity for health plans, insurers and providers, there are remaining questions about effectiveness, duration, and the cost of the covered treatments that must be sorted out," Brown wrote in a signing statement. "Under national health care reform, the federal government will establish 'essential health benefits.' If the coverage established by this bill is not included as an essential benefit, the mandate of Senate Bill 946 will automatically expire."

Advocates said the bill would ensure treatment for autistic children, while insurers said the mandate would increase costs.

"This is a critical victory for thousands of California children and families," Steinberg said in a prepared statement. "For many of them, having this therapy covered by their insurance is the difference between despair and hope."

Editor's note: This post updated at 3:55 p.m. to include Thomasson's remarks.


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