Leyva Bill Helping Low Income Californians Access Critical Services Signed into Law

After Earning Strong Bipartisan Support in Legislature, Governor Signs SB 575

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to protect the health and wellbeing of low income Californians was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

SB 575 will allow low income Californians to receive a copy of their medical records at no cost when applying to public benefit programs, including Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services, Blind and Disabled (SSI/SSP) benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance, CalWORKs, CalFresh, and veterans benefits. Applying for safety net services is a complicated process that requires careful review of medical records to determine eligibility.

“If applicants are not able to properly document their medical history, they may be delayed or even denied the ability to receive the public benefits that they need to lead healthy and productive lives. They may be forced to suffer through a lengthy appeals process that can hurt the people most in need of these critical services. These important programs serve some of our most vulnerable Californians, including seniors and veterans,” Senator Leyva said.  “The Governor’s signature today ensures that low income applicants will have easier access to the public benefits that can help them survive. I thank Governor Brown for his signature today and my legislative colleagues for their strong bipartisan support of SB 575.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance stating that healthcare providers should provide people who request access to their medical information with copies of their health information free of charge. Some providers charge patients to receive copies of their own medical records, which then forces low income Californians to spend needed cash to even apply for public benefits.

Sponsored by the Western Center on Law & Poverty and supported by numerous legal aid organizations across the state, SB 575 will take effect on January 1, 2018.