Assembly Committee Unanimously Approves the Physicians Make Decisions Act, which keeps Medical Decision between Patients and Doctors–not AI

SB 1120 protects patients from Artificial Intelligence by requiring health care providers to make the final decisions on what kind of treatments patients receive rather than AI

Sacramento, CA—Yesterday, the Assembly Committee on Health unanimously approved SB 1120, The Physicians Make Decisions Act, authored by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park). SB 1120 safeguards patients’ access to necessary medical treatments by mandating necessary physician oversight when insurers utilize algorithms to decide on healthcare providers' requests to offer medical services. 

“Artificial intelligence is an important and increasingly utilized tool in diagnosing and treating patients, but it should not be the final say on what kind of healthcare a patient receives,” said Becker. “An algorithm does not fully know and understand a patient’s medical history and needs and can lead to erroneous or biased decisions on medical treatment. The Physicians Make Decisions Act ensures that the human element will always determine quality medical treatments for patients.” 

“Senate Bill 1120 is an important step towards preserving the physician-patient relationship and ensuring that patients receive the highest quality of care. Artificial intelligence has its place in health care, but it should never replace the expertise and compassion of a trained physician. Thank you to Senator Becker and the Senate for advancing SB 1120 which prioritizes patient safety and quality care,” said Tanya W. Spirtos, M.D., president of the California Medical Association.

In recent years, health insurance plans have increasingly relied on AI to streamline the processing of claims and prior authorization requests. While this has the potential to improve access to care and save insurers money, there are legitimate concerns about inaccuracies and biases, prompting calls for oversight. Wrongful denial of insurance claims based on algorithms can lead to serious health consequences and even death. Leading healthcare organizations have called for oversight over the use of AI in insurance.

The Physicians Make Decisions Act tackles this pressing issue by ensuring that a denial, delay, or modification of health care services based on medical necessity be made by a licensed physician or other health care provider competent to evaluate the specific clinical issues of the case. The bill also commits the companies who choose to use AI in their utilization review process to fair and equitable standards. By reinforcing human oversight and creating guideposts for fair and equitable use, SB 1120 seeks to uphold the integrity of the healthcare system and prioritize patients' well-being above all else.

SB 1120 is sponsored by the California Medical Association, which represents approximately 50,000 physicians in the state, and has no opposition. It now heads to the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection for its consideration.