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Capital News
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BILL WOULD COVER FERTILITY CARE FOR SERIOUSLY ILL: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Insurance companies would be required to pay for fertility treatments for patients battling cancer and other serious diseases under a bill advancing through the California Legislature.

Cancer patients can require treatments that jeopardize their ability to have children. Expensive steps to preserve fertility may not be covered by insurance when the condition results from treating other diseases.

The bill by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, requires insurers to cover the cost of extracting eggs and freezing sperm prior to treatments that can harm fertility. Harvesting and freezing eggs can cost as much as $15,000.

Providing coverage will help patients who consider foregoing treatment in order to protect their ability to have children, Quirk-Silva said. About 140,000 people in the U.S. under the age of 45 are diagnosed with cancer each year.

"This is a sensible, humane and cost-effective solution to foreseeable harm for medically necessary treatment," Quirk-Silva said.

The Assembly passed the measure Wednesday on a vote of 48-23. The bill now goes to the Senate.

If AB912 is signed into law, California would be the first state with such a requirement. Current state law requires insurers to offer coverage for fertility treatments, but it is not required to be included as a benefit in an insurance policy.

BILL WOULD GIVE LICENSES TO THOSE IN US ILLEGALLY: SACRAMENTO . (AP) — People living in the U.S. illegally would be able to seek a California driver's license under a bill that passed the state Assembly.

The measure from Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville would allow those without a Social Security number to apply for a license. They must show several alternative forms of identification, including a birth certificate and proof of residency.

Alejo says AB60 would increase safety on California roads because unlicensed drivers are nearly three times as likely to cause a crash.

A committee analysis says there are 2 million people in California who would be eligible for a driver's license or ID card.

Republicans opposed the bill, saying it could jeopardize other uses for the IDs. The Assembly approved the bill 53-20 Wednesday, sending it to the Senate.

CALIF. BILL CHALLENGES BOY SCOUTS' POLICY ON GAYS: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — The state Senate has approved a bill that would use California's tax policy in an attempt to pressure the Boy Scouts of America into fully accepting gay members.

It would make the organization ineligible for nonprofit tax breaks despite the organization's effort to diffuse the debate. The organization voted last week to accept openly gay scouts but to continue blocking gays from becoming adult leaders.

Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens says that means gays can join the scouts only until they turn 18.

Lara's SB323 would deny state tax breaks to the scouts and other youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.

The bill passed on a 27-9 vote Wednesday and now goes to the Assembly.

BROWN: COUNTIES MUST PAY FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION: SACRAMENTO . (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is meeting with county officials from throughout California as he tries to expand the state's health care program for the poor and transfer some state responsibilities to local governments.

The Democratic governor told the California State Association of Counties on Wednesday that California cannot afford to "double-pay" as it expands Medi-Cal as part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Brown said he expects counties to return about $300 million to cover 2 million to 3 million people in the next fiscal year.

County officials say they cannot predict their costs and still will be responsible for covering millions of uninsured people.

CSAC Executive Director Matt Cate says the counties are willing to pay but don't want to end up even worse financially than they are now.