Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Leyva Bill Boosting Accessibility to Public Benefit Programs

SB 575 Helps Low Income Californians Receive Medical Records at No Cost

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SACRAMENTO – With bipartisan support, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed an important bill authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that would give low income residents greater access to their medical records. 

SB 575 helps low income Californians access their medical records free of charge so that they may prepare their most reliable application for public benefit programs.  Current law only allows free access to medical records for appeals of public benefit program applications, including Medi-Cal, Supplemental Security Income / Supplementary Program for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (SSI/SSP), and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  Some providers charge high amounts for medical records and supporting documentation that low income applicants need to support their initial application for safety net services.

“Sadly, low income applicants may sometimes be forced to submit a public benefit application that does not adequately show their need for safety net services simply because they cannot afford the high costs for copies of their own medical records.  Applying for safety net services is a complicated process, and a claim denial can lead to a lengthy appeal process for a person urgently needing support,” Senator Leyva said. “SB 575 improves accessibility to public benefit programs for those in need by ensuring that an applicant can receive their medical records at no cost for the initial application.  I want to thank the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing SB 575 and supporting low income residents across California.”

SB 575 is sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and supported by many legal aid organizations, health advocacy groups, food security advocates and other organizations serving low income Californians. SB 575 passed from the Senate Health Committee with bipartisan support late last month.

Following today’s vote, SB 575 proceeds to the Senate Appropriations Committee later this spring.