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LS_BUDGET_SIGN_3.JPGGov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday expanding the type of medical providers who can perform abortions in California.

Assembly Bill 154, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform certain first-trimester abortions.

Proponents of the bill, including Democrats in the state Legislature, said it will address a shortage of abortion providers and the need for women to travel long distances for the procedure.

Republicans said it would lower the standard of care for women seeking abortions and put patients at risk.

The bill was one of seven health-related bills the Democratic governor announced signing Wednesday.

Among the others was Assembly Bill 1308, by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, allowing licensed midwives to order medical supplies and devices and to administer drugs and tests without a physician's supervision.

Brown also signed Assembly Bill 219, by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, which will require health insurance policies that cover oral anti-cancer medications after Jan. 1, 2015, to limit out-of-pocket costs for those prescriptions to no more than $200 a month.

The Perea bill sunsets in 2019.

In a signing message, Brown said the limit on out-of-pocket expenses "provides good value for patients of modest means" but "is not without the potential for unintended consequences."

"Placing a price cap for a specific class of drugs for a specific class of diseases may not be a policy for the ages," he wrote. "This bill, with a sunset, permits us to examine what effects - intentional or unintended - this bill may have before we embrace it for the longer term."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown signs the state budget during a ceremony at the Capitol, Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling



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