California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed a bill into law that critics say forces insurance companies to conceal from parents the medical services their children are receiving, including when it involves such controversial ones as abortion, puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.
The new law, AB 1184, prohibits insurance companies from requiring minors to receive authorization from the policy-holding parents for “sensitive services.” The law defines “sensitive” services as “mental or behavioral health, sexual and reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, substance use disorder, gender-affirming care, and intimate partner violence.” The phrase “gender-affirming” care includes gender-transition treatments for transgenderism.
Further, the law requires the insurance company to “direct all communications” about the service to the child and prohibits the company from disclosing the information to the parents unless the child allows it.
In signing the bill, Newsom said it was needed to protect the “privacy rights of people receiving sensitive health care services.”
Critics, though, say it infringes on parental rights.
“How can moms and dads protect their children if insurance companies deliberately keep them in the dark?” said Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council. “Parents are responsible for the health and safety of their sons and daughters. Even the best-intentioned medical providers cannot replace the role of mothers and fathers. California should not force doctors to hide the truth about irreversible medical procedures like abortion and sterilizing hormone treatments.”
The California Senate’s nine Republicans urged Newsom to veto the bill, saying in a letter that “parents have a right to be involved in sensitive medical decisions for their young children.” The now-law, they said, puts “policyholders in the impossible position of being financially responsible for bills they did not incur and cannot verify as being legitimate.”
“We should be encouraging parents and families to be involved in their children’s lives, not removing them further from it,” the letter said.
The new law passed the Assembly, 61-14, and the Senate, 29-8.