Keeping You Connected

The SCMA and MLCMS keep you up to date on the latest news,
policy developments, and events


January 2010

URGENT: Physicians need to contact legislators to support Medicare GPCI fix

Congressional leaders are expected to merge the House and Senate health care reform bills into one final bill during the next three weeks. CMA has sent a delegation to Washington, DC, to lobby for improvements, but needs your help to preserve the House bill’s update of California’s Medicare payment localities, also known as the “GPCI fix.”

All physicians are urged to contact the senators and representatives listed below and tell them to update California’s Medicare Physician Payment Locality borders by supporting the California GPCI fix in the House bill. Please make all the calls or e-mails you can. If you have only a few minutes, the top priorities are Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Boxer, and Rep. Pelosi. Every call or e-mail counts!

When contacting senators or representatives, give your name, specialty, city and county, and urge the senator or representative to support the California GPCI fix in the House bill. The GPCI fix will improve access to care in 14 California counties, including Sonoma. (For a sample e-mail and more information on the GPCI fix, visit the “Resources” page at When contacting Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Stark and Rep. Waxman, please also thank them for fighting for California physicians on this issue.

·       Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Send an e-mail or use the AMA’s grassroots hotline at 800-833-6354.

·       Sen. Barbara Boxer. Send an e-mail or use the AMA’s grassroots hotline at 800-833-6354.

·       Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-4965.

·       Rep. Henry Waxman. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-3976.

·       Rep Pete Stark. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-5065.

·       Rep. Mike Thompson. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-3311.

·       Rep. Lynn Woolsey. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-5161.

Final decisions are being made now. Please call today! Thank you!


Health Action needs primary care practices for learning collaborative by Jan. 22

By Bo Greaves, MD

Health Action of Sonoma County is organizing a learningcollaborative of 8-12 diverse primary care practices from March throughDecember this year. Each practice will be working on transforming how theiroffice operates, and on becoming a patient-centered medical home. Each practiceneeds to commit to making improvements, and to sharing their experiences withall in the collaborative.

We anticipate that each of these practices, throughout 2010,will make substantial movement toward the goal of becoming a patient-centeredmedical home (PCMH), with significant improvements in patient access, patientsafety, care coordination, and proven clinical quality. We also anticipatespreading this transformative process to other primary care practices in SonomaCounty over the next 2-3 years.

If you are up to thischallenge and ready to commit to active participation in the activitiesdescribed here, PLEASE let us know immediately. We can only acceptapplications to participate until Jan. 22. The application is quick and easy tocomplete—but remember the commitment will involve hard work! For applicationmaterials or questions, contact Pamela Moore at pmoore@rchc.netor 792-7900, Ext. 202. You may also contact me at or408-2696.

The PCMH Collaborative will kick off on March 18-19 with aone-and-a-half-day learning session, with teams (clinician, office manager,back office staff) from each practice attending. At this session, all aspectsof the PCMH will be explored, as will relationship-centered care and thechronic-care model. In addition, some basic tools for rapid office improvementwill be taught. There will then be three half-day learning sessions, held everyother month, focusing on specific aspects of how to make this fundamentalchange in our practices. We will end in December with an all-day meeting toreview the progress of each practice and set the stage for continuing changeand for expansion to other practices.

In between each session, the teams from each practice willbe expected to carry out ongoing and continuous improvement projects, each oneaimed at moving them closer to the goal of becoming a patient-centered medicalhome.

Again, for application materials or questions, contactPamela Moore at or792-7900, Ext. 202, or Dr. Bo Greaves at or408-2696.


SCMA membership continues to increase; Directory to publish in February

Despite all the turmoil in medicine locally and nationally,membership in SCMA continues to increase at a steady pace, growing 2% in thelast year. To help keep track of all those new physicians, SCMA will bepublishing the 2010 edition of its Sonoma County Physician Directory inFebruary. The directory, a standard reference book for local medical offices,includes photos and complete specialty, address and training information forSCMA members, along with an alphabetical listing of almost all localphysicians, various specialty indexes, and a guide to medical resources.

Each SCMA member receives one free copy of the directory.Additional copies cost $30 for members, $40 for nonmembers and health carefacilities, and $55 for all others. To order, visit or contact RachelPandolfi at or 525-4375.


Latest issue of Sonoma Medicine examines The Aging Brain

The Winter 2010 of Sonoma Medicine, mailed to members last week, focuses on “The Aging Brain,” with articles by local physicians on new treatments for Parkinson’s, risk factors for dementia, biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, and a Santa Rosa “brain gym.” Departments include a travelogue from the Galapagos and an article about restoring a classic car, as well as poetry and book reviews.

Each SCMA member receives one free copy of the magazine. Additional copies can be purchased at Sawyer’s News or Copperfield’s Books in Santa Rosa  or Readers’ Books in Sonoma.


Public Health offers free H1N1 vaccinations in Santa Rosa on Jan. 23

The Public Health department will be holding a free H1N1vaccination clinic at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds from 2 to 7 p.m. onSaturday, Jan. 23. “H1N1 vaccine is widely available throughout the county, andvirtually everyone over the age of 6 months should get vaccinated,” said DeputyHealth Officer Dr. Mark Netherda. He recommended that patients should firstseek the vaccine from their medical providers or local pharmacies. Those whocan’t access the vaccines in these ways should attend the free vaccination clinic.

For up-to-date information on H1N1, visit call the Public Health Information Line at 565-4477.


Center for Well-Being presents healthy eating classes at G&G Supermarket

The Northern California Center for Well-Being will bepresenting a series of healthy eating classes at the G&G Supermarket inSanta Rosa during January. Topics includes “Cooking for Your Weight” (Jan. 13),“Lower Your Cholesterol” (Jan. 20), “Cooking for Diabetes” (Jan. 27) and “BabyFood by Hand” (Jan. 29). Local physicians are encouraged to tell their patientsabout these classes, which are offered for a nominal fee. Patients can registerby visiting gandgmarket.comor calling the Center for Well-Being at 575-6043. 


Office of Education seeks judges for Science Fair

The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) is seekingvolunteers to serve as judges for their annual Science Fair, scheduled forWednesday, Feb. 24, at the SCOE office on Skylane Blvd. in Santa Rosa. Eachyear, about 100 students in grades 6-12 exhibit scientific research projects atthe fair, where their work is evaluated by qualified judges.

Physicians interested in serving as judges should contactMike Roa at or 522-3253, orJill Mcintyre at or524-2816. You can also download and submit a volunteer form by searching for“Science Fair” at requires about a half day and includes an orientation session,breakfast and lunch. 


Hospital updates

·      SantaRosa Memorial Hospital marks its 60th anniversary this year. The hospitalopened Jan. 1, 1950, as a 90-bed facility with 93 employees and 70 doctors withprivileges. Twelve patients were admitted on opening day. The number of bedshas since increased to 278, the employees to 1,832, and the doctors withprivileges to 470. During 2009, the hospital logged more than 12,000 inpatientvisits and 170,000 outpatient visits. Its parent company, the St. Joseph HealthSystem, is the county’s largest private, nonprofit employer, with almost 2,400employees altogether.

·      SignatureHealth Care announced plans to open a 90-bed psychiatric hospital in SantaRosa by 2011. The hospital, which will be located in a Fulton Road facilitythat Memorial Hospital closed during 2008, is expected to serve the inpatientpsychiatric needs for several North Bay counties.

·      The PetalumaHealth Center will receive more than $9 million in federal funding toexpand its facilities. The expansion will allow the center to double itspatient capacity, from 14,000 to as many as 30,000.

·      HealdsburgDistrict Hospital will sponsor student rotations for Sonoma State’s newDirect Entry Masters of Science in Nursing (DEMSN) program. The new program isdesigned for students with a BA or higher degree in a field other than nursing.Graduates will receive an MSN degree.


Congress at the brink of health reform

After more than a year of debate, Congress is at the brinkof passing historic legislation to expand health care coverage to millions ofAmericans. The final legislation will contain a number of provisions that CMAhas been fighting to achieve for years, such as insurance industry reforms toprotect patients, measures to make coverage more affordable for low-incomefamilies, as much as $350 billion in physician payment fixes in Medicare andMedicaid, and increased funding for primary care, physician training, andwellness and prevention. Unfortunately, the legislation will also contain someprovisions that CMA opposes.

House and Senate leaders are meeting over the next few weeksto reconcile the remaining differences between the House and Senate reformbills. Despite these differences, CMA fully expects that the House-SenateConference Committee will have the votes to produce legislation that will passboth houses of Congress and be signed by the President as soon as the end ofJanuary.

Outstanding issues still remain that CMA believes must beaddressed if the legislation is to deliver on its promise of increased accessto care. Now is the last chance to improve the legislation on six criticalissues:

Repealing theMedicare Sustainable Growth Rate. The current formula would cut funding by40% in future years if left in place and would hurt senior citizens’ ability tofind a doctor to treat them. The viability of Medicare is crucial as millionsof baby boomers retire and enter the program.

Eliminating ormodifying the proposed Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), whichcould slash spending and coverage options for senior citizens with little inputfrom others.

Increasing Medicaid’slow reimbursement rates. As it is, patients covered by Medi-Cal oftenstruggle to find a doctor because rates are so low that only about one-third ofthe state’s physicians participate in the program. Both bills dramaticallyexpand eligibility, meaning up to 2 million more patients could enter Medi-Cal,further complicating access.

Updating the Medicarelocality system to reflect changes in practice costs.

Ensuring that any physicianquality reporting program is accurate, fair, and offers physicians anopportunity to correct mistakes in the data or process.

Ensuring patientshave the right to privately contract with Medicare physicians.

You can get more information and details in CMA’s letterto the House-Senate Conference Committee, which is available on CMA’s health reform webpage.


Medicare switches from consultation codes to E&M codes; CMA offers billing guide

Despite strenuous objections from CMA and others inorganized medicine, Medicare is no longer recognizing inpatient and outpatientconsultation codes. Effective Jan. 1, physicians must instead bill usingE&M codes from the Office and Other Outpatient Services, Initial HospitalCare, and Initial Nursing Facility sections of the 2010 CPT. While CMS hasincreased the work RVUs for new and established office visits, as well asinitial hospital and nursing facility visits, these changes may result insignificant losses for some practices.

The new policy—and the short notice—have already caused agreat deal of confusion as physicians and billing managers try to make sense ofthe new rules.

To help you understand what the switch means, CMA haspublished a 4-page billingguide that includes an overview of the issue, a code crosswalk, and linksto additional resources. The guide is available to CMA members only at (You may also request a copy bycalling the CMA member help center at 800-786-4262.)

CMA members can get additional information and guidance onthis issue through a members-onlywebinar with Palmetto Medical Director Arthur Lurvey, MD. Dr. Lurvey willanswer physician questions and explain how to bill for these services in 2010and beyond. This one-hour webinar begins Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 12:15 pm.Registration is free, but space is limited, so reserve your space today.If you are unable to participate in the live webinar, it will be available foron-demand viewing beginning the following day.

Physicians who use a third-party billing service are urgedto call their vendors to make sure they are aware and prepared for the rulechange. Feel free to provide them with a copy of the CMA consult code crosswalkand billingguide.

CMA is also surveying major payors in California to find outwhich of them plan to follow Medicare’s lead and eliminate consults. Once wehave gathered this data, we will make it available to members.

For additional questions about the new rules, call the CMAmember help center at 800-786-4262 and ask to speak with a reimbursementspecialist.



Yosemite Institute for primary care physicians March 26-28

The 59th annual Postgraduate Institute for primary carephysicians will be held at the Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite National Park fromMarch 26 to 28. Tuition is $375 for physicians, $300 for allied healthprofessionals, and $100 for medical students, interns or residents. The eventqualifies for up to 16 hours of Category 1 credit. To register, visit or call 559-224-4224.


Dr. George McClary dies

Dr. George McClary, a Santa Rosa family doctor with apassion for photographing fires, died in December at the age of 82. Originallyfrom Chicago, McClary opened a private practice in Santa Rosa in 1958 and soondistinguished himself among local firefighters by being among the first respondersto fire scenes. His photos were used for training by the Santa Rosa FireDepartment, which made him an honorary fire chief in 1971. During his longcareer, McClary was a staunch advocate for mental health, helping to found theSonoma County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He retired in1983.



Ronald Botelho, MD, Anesthesiology*, Pain Medicine, CardiacAnesthesiology, 3536 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa 95403, 523-0616, Fax 523-0616,,UC San Diego 1982

M. Kathryn Brown, MD, Pediatrics*, 3925 Old Redwood Hwy., SantaRosa 95403, 566-5273, Fax 566-5292,, Univ Virginia 1993

Alicia Duenas, MD, Psychiatry*, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa95403, 571-3778, Fax 571-3799,, Univ Rochester 2004

Christopher Gaut, MD, Emergency Medicine, 401 Bicentennial Way,Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4800, Fax 393-4747,, UC Davis 1994

Anna Kogan, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 500 Doyle Park Dr.#103, Santa Rosa 95405, 579-1102, Fax 579-1386, Rosalind Franklin Univ 2005

Kenneth Kurtz, MD, Allergy & Immunology*, Internal Medicine,401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4133, Fax 393-4560,, UC San Diego 1991

Daniel Loube, MD, Pulmonary Disease*, Critical Care Medicine*,Sleep Medicine*, 1165 Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa 95404, 543-2910, Fax 544-2389,, George Washington Univ 1987

Katie Noyes, MD, Family Medicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa95404, 547-2220, Fax 303-3318, Dartmouth Med Sch 2009

Daniel Santiago, MD, Family Medicine*, 144 Stony Point Rd., SantaRosa 95401, 521-4500, Fax 544-4626,

Thomas Shragg, MD, Pulmonary Disease*, Critical Care Medicine*, 401Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4610, Fax 393-4775,, UCDavis 1975

Rami Turk, MD, Cardiovascular Disease, 3536 Mendocino Ave. #200,Santa Rosa 95403, 573-6166, Fax 573-6165,, Emory Univ 2003

Jitesh Vasadia, MD, Cardiovascular Disease*, 401 Bicentennial Way,Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4006, Fax 393-4188,, Osmania MedColl 1997

Laura Westerling, MD, Dermatopathology*, 401 Bicentennial Way,Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4112, Fax 393-4871,, UnivSouthern California 2003

Eric Williams, MD, Dermatology*, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa95403, 393-4112, Fax 393-4871,, Univ Southern California2003

Jill Young, MD, Pediatrics*, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa,393-2091, Fax 393-4556,, Mayo Med Sch 1988

* board certified



Medical Office Space
Small suite available for reasonable rent. Three exam rooms, southeastSanta Rosa. Call Connie, 707-525-0211.

Medical Office Space
Suite available. Perkins Medical Center, Sonoma. 1800+/- square ft.$2890/mo. 707-996-4519.

How to submit a classified ad
To submit a classified ad for SCMA News Briefs or Sonoma Medicine, contact NanPerrott at nperrott@rhscommunications.comor 707-525-4226. The cost is one dollar per word.



The Sonoma County Medical Association, a 501(c)(6) nonprofitassociation, supports local physicians and their efforts to enhance the healthof the community. Founded in 1858, SCMA is affiliated with the CaliforniaMedical Association and the American Medical Association.

© SCMA 2010
3033 Cleveland Ave. #104
Santa Rosa, CA 95403



You are receiving SCMA News Briefs because you are aphysician or an affiliated medical professional in Sonoma County. If you wishto unsubscribe, contact Steve Osborn at sosborn@scma.orgor 707-525-4325.


December 2009

SCMA dinner attracts full house

The banquet room at the Vintner’s Inn was completely full onWednesday evening, Dec. 2, as SCMA honored a quartet of baby-boomer doctors,along with the residency program that trained many of the attendees. SCMAPresident Dr. Richard Powers emceed the event with alacrity, easily holding theattention of more than 150 doctors, spouses and guests.

The first award, for Outstanding Contribution to theCommunity, went to Dr. Walter Mills. Presenter Dr. Bob Schulz praised Mills forhis kindness, compassion and energy in support of the residency program, theNorthern California Center for Well-Being and many other local projects. Millsresponded, “This award is about the past, but the future is what has meexcited.”

Jack Neureuter, CEO of Alliance Medical Center, presentedthe Outstanding Contribution to Sonoma County Medicine award to Dr. JeffSugarman, calling him “a combination of Peter Pan and the Pied Piper.”Neureuter said the dermatology clinic Sugarman established at Alliance hasbecome a model for specialty access throughout the county.

Former president Dr. Leonard Klay presented the OutstandingContribution to SCMA award to Dr. Brad Drexler, calling him “a man of ideas”who has championed anti-smoking legislation and Medicare reform. In hisacceptance speech, Drexler showed a flair for humor, offering two well-timedjokes.

Dr. Mark Sloan presented the Article of the Year award toDr. Mark Netherda for “Sonoma County’sLagging Immunization Rates,” which appeared in the Winter 2009 issue ofSonoma Medicine. Netherda urged the audience to stop being “polite nodders” inthe immunization debate and become stronger advocates for immunizing all theirpatients.

Dr. Rick Flinders concluded the evening by presenting theSpecial Award for Recognition of Achievement to the Santa Rosa Family MedicineResidency Consortium, a now-disbanded group that helped preserve the residency.He called the Consortium “an idea whose time had come, and then, like ashooting star, had gone again.”


Flu Shot Saturday set for December 5th

Flu Shot Saturday—which is targeted to low-income,underinsured and uninsured patients—will proceed as planned from 9 a.m. to noonon Saturday, Dec. 5. Both seasonal and H1N1 shots will be given, but the supplyis limited. Some people may be turned away, depending on availability ofvaccines. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Seasonal shots can be given to any individual over 6 monthsold, including pregnant women, but there are several priority groups forreceiving H1N1 vaccine.

The suggested donation is $10, but no one will be turnedaway due to inability to pay. The shots will be offered at locations throughoutthe county. For a complete list, visit or call707-565-4477.


SCMA to assist with primary care survey

SCMA, which maintains an extensive database on all localphysicians, will be a key player in an upcoming survey of primary carecapacity, innovations and shortages. The survey is being conducted by thePrimary Care Workgroup, one of several groups formed by the Sonoma CountyDepartment of Health Services to improve community health for county residents.

The workgroup, chaired by Dr. Bo Greaves, will use the SCMAdatabase to contact primary care physicians regarding their practice capacityand the degree to which they have adopted patient-centered care innovations.The workgroup will also collect data required to designate any Primary CareHealth Professional Shortage Areas, which may be eligible for federal funding.

The survey results will be used to develop recommendationsfor ensuring primary care capacity and promoting patient-centered care. 


PFMC awards nearly $25,000 to four North Bay projects

The Pacific Foundation for Medical Care has awarded nearly$25,000 in grants to four North Bay health projects. The grants are given twicea year to support projects that enhance the availability or quality of healthservices in counties served by PFMC. The latest grants were given to:

·      SCMAHealth Careers Scholarship Committee to fund scholarships for studentspursuing medical careers.

·      NorthernCalifornia Center for Well-Being (Santa Rosa) for childhood obesityprevention programs.

·      SonomaCounty Academic Foundation for Excellence in Medicine (Santa Rosa) tosupport strategic planning and faculty development for the Santa Rosa FamilyMedicine Residency.

·      CoastalHealth Alliance (Pt. Reyes Station) to address risky behaviors among WestMarin youth.

The next deadline for PFMC grant applications is April 2,2010. Instructions on how to apply for the grants are posted on PFMC, a nonprofit organizationdedicated to improving patient access to physicians, includes many SCMAphysicians in its provider network.


Buildings dominate November medical news

The ever-changing medical landscape in Sonoma County got afew more buildings in the foreground during November, even as the economicbackground continued its steady decline. Among the highlights:

·      The Veterans’Administration opened a 21,000 square foot outpatient clinic near theSonoma County airport. The facility, twice the size of the old VA clinic inSanta Rosa, includes more than a dozen exam and treatment rooms and will employup to 70 medical providers, including physicians, dentists and physicaltherapists. At least 5,000 local veterans are expected to use the new clinic.

·      Not to be outdone, the Southwest Community Health Center doubled the size of its clinic insouthwest Santa Rosa and signed an agreement to buy a 40,000 square foot officebuilding in the northeast corner of the city. The new facilities will allowSouthwest to increase its patient base from about 25,000 to nearly 35,000.

·      St.Joseph Health System bought a 60-bed convalescent facility across thestreet from Memorial Hospital. The hospital previously rented the building.Plans for the facility have yet to be announced.

·      Instead of a building, the Sutter Medical Foundation North Bay bought the seven-physicianDoyle Park Family Medicine group, whose offices are near Memorial. The purchaseswelled the ranks of local Sutter physicians to 85. The Doyle Park groupincludes Drs. Renee Armstrong, Laurie Cederburg, Kathy Horan, Naomi McAuliffe,Gary McLeod, Amy Shaw and Larry Slater.

·      KaiserPermanente and the Redwood CommunityHealth Coalition will be taking over responsibility for the Healthy Kidsprogram, which was previously administered by Sonoma County. The change wasprompted by decreased funding from the state and other sources. Healthy Kidsserves about 8,000 local uninsured children.

·      The KozelStroke Institute at Healdsburg Hospital received a Participation Award fromthe American Stroke Association for following specific guidelines in providingstroke care.


Three prominent local physicians die during November

Drs. John Shearer, Theodore Stashak and James West, all ofwhom had long careers in Sonoma County, died during November.

·      Dr.Shearer, a family physician in Petaluma for more than four decades, was apassionate advocate for health care reform. In “The Case for SinglePayer,” published in Sonoma Medicine in 2003, he wrote, “It is no longercredible to maintain that the current system works; it is also no longermeaningful to proceed with modifications of a system that has failed.” Amonghis many accomplishments, Dr. Shearer helped found the Children’s HealthcareAccess Coalition and volunteered at the Jewish Community Free Clinic. He was77.

·      At the opposite end of the political spectrum, Dr. Stashak was an ob-gyn in Santa Rosafrom 1949 to 1990. He was a staunch supporter of the John Birch Society andserved as president of the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association. He deliveredmore than 10,000 babies and worked for many years with Dr. Alexis Maximov.Stashak was an avid cowboy and hunter, owning both a cattle ranch in Santa Rosaand a hunting preserve in Cloverdale. He was 91.

·      Dr. Westwas a pediatrician in Petaluma for nearly 50 years. When he started hispractice in the 1950s, he was the first and only pediatrician in town. Heworked tirelessly during that era, even as he and his wife Gilly raised fivechildren of their own. In 1972, Dr. Jeana Levinthal joined his practice; theyworked together until both retired in 2004. West served on the board of BloodBank of the Redwoods and Petaluma Valley Hospital. He was 85.


Blue Shield plans to publish physician ratings based on faulty data

Despite concerns expressed by CMA and an advisory panel,Blue Shield plans to publish physician rankings based on faulty data from theCalifornia Physician Performance Initiative (CPPI). Over the past two years,CPPI has used claims data from private PPO patients from Anthem Blue Cross,Blue Shield, and United Healthcare to measure physicians on a set of qualitymeasures.

CMA has serious concerns with the validity and accuracy ofthe data that has been collected. Results of CPPI’s own reconsideration processin 2009 found significant inaccuracies, with 33% of physician scores beingoverturned.

Because the CPPI program relies solely on claims data, itfails to comprehensively document the care a patient receives or the reasonswhy a patient may not receive care. For example, one physician reported that hewas marked down for not recommending cervical cancer screening to patients whohad undergone hysterectomies.

Nonetheless, Blue Shield is planning to give digital “blueribbons” to physicians who scored in the top 50th percentile, and will possiblyreopen the reconsideration process for physicians who are interested inimproving their scores. Blue Shield plans to publish this information by theend of December.

CMA is working to dissuade Blue Shield from publishing the2009 CPPI results, and to fix the flaws in the CPPI data-gathering processbefore moving forward with the project.


CMA opposes current version of Senate health reform bill

CMA, which supports health reform legislation passed lastmonth by the House of Representatives, opposes the Senate health reform bill ascurrently written.

“There is no way health care reform can work if patientscan’t get access to a doctor,” said CMA President Dr. Brennan Cassidy. “TheSenate bill fails to fix major problems in Medicare and Medicaid, whichcurrently suffer from chronic underfunding that undermines access.”

Cassidy called for major improvements to both programs,including better funding. CMA is working with senators to draft amended legislationthat meets these goals.

“California’s physicians appreciate the support of senatorsand their sensitivity to critical issues affecting the well-being of patientsand the doctors serving them,” Cassidy said. “It’s essential that the Senate’sleadership adopt changes to help California and protect patients.”


House passes Medicare reform bill; Senate action pending

Last month, the House of Representatives passed the MedicarePhysician Payment Reform Act, which eliminates the Sustainable Growth Rate(SGR) formula that would have cut payments to physicians by 21% in 2010. Actionin the Senate is still pending.

After the House vote, AMA President Dr. James Rohack issueda statement saying, “The AMA urges the Senate to act quickly before the cutbegins on January 1. Fixing the Medicare physician payment formula once and forall is an essential element of comprehensive health reform. Congress needs tofulfill its current commitments as it considers expanding its obligations.Physicians must be assured of stable payments so they can continue to care forseniors, baby boomers and military families.”


Red Flag Rule delayed again; bill introduced to exempt physicians

For the third time, the Federal Trade Commission has delayedenforcement of the Red Flag Rule, which requires some physician practices todevelop and implement identity-theft detection and prevention programs. Therule is now scheduled to take effect next June.

Several factors appear to be causing the delays, includingobjections from organized medicine, accountants and attorneys. The American BarAssociation recently won a lawsuit in federal court holding that the Red FlagRule could not be applied to attorneys, a decision that may impact enforcementof the rule with physicians.

A bill (HR 3763) recently introduced in Congress wouldcreate an exemption for health organizations, including physician practices,with 20 or fewer employees.


State rejects expanding scope of practice for nonphysicians

The California Office of Administrative Law has rejectedregulations proposed by the state Department of Public Health that would haveexpanded the scope of practice of psychologists and potentially all otherhealth care practitioners working in licensed health care facilities.

CMA strongly opposed the regulations, which would haveweakened medical staff self-governance rights and could have been interpretedto allow unqualified health care professionals to carry out the duties of aphysician or surgeon.

The regulations would have allowed nonphysician practitionersto admit patients, perform medical examinations, place patients in restraints,complete medical records, coordinate care, and order transfers. The regulationswould also have circumvented the self-governance rights of medical staffs toestablish and enforce the rules, regulations, criteria and standards formedical staff membership and privileges.



Constance Earl, DO, Family Medicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220 Fax 303-3318, Univ New England 2007

Michelle Mertz, MD, Family Medicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220 Fax 303-3318, Univ Vermont 2006

Laura Norton, MD, Surgery, 121 Sotoyome St., Santa Rosa 95405, 525-6180 Fax 521-3854,, Indiana Univ 2002

David Siffring, MD, Diagnostic Radiology, 121 Sotoyome St., Santa Rosa 95405, 546-4062 Fax 525-4097,, Hahnemann Univ 1999

Andrew Wagner, MD, Family Medicine*, 819 Longwood Ln., Sebastopol 95472,, UC Irvine 1982

* board certified



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Medical Office Space
Small suite available for reasonable rent. Three exam rooms, southeastSanta Rosa. Call Connie, 707-525-0211.

Medical Office Space
Suite available. Perkins Medical Center, Sonoma. 1800+/- square ft.$2890/mo. 707-996-4519.

How to submit a classified ad
To submit a classified ad for SCMA News Briefs or Sonoma Medicine, contact NanPerrott at nperrott@rhscommunications.comor 707-525-4226. The cost is one dollar per word.



The Sonoma County Medical Association, a 501(c)(6) nonprofitassociation, supports local physicians and their efforts to enhance the healthof the community. Founded in 1858, SCMA is affiliated with the CaliforniaMedical Association and the American Medical Association.

© SCMA 2009
3033 Cleveland Ave. #104
Santa Rosa, CA 95403



You are receiving SCMA News Briefs because you are aphysician or an affiliated medical professional in Sonoma County. If you wishto unsubscribe, contact Steve Osborn at sosborn@scma.orgor 707-525-4325.


November 2009

RSVP now for SCMA Awards Dinner on Dec. 2

Right now, this very minute, is the best time to RSVP forthe SCMA Awards Dinner at the Vintner’s Inn on Wednesday evening, Dec. 2.Tickets are free for SCMA members,but RSVPs are required. Tickets for spouses, guests and nonmembers are $50each. To RSVP and/or purchase tickets, contact Rachel Pandolfi at 525-4375 or

When obtaining tickets, please indicate your dinnerchoice(s) from the following options: “duet” (chicken breast and porktenderloin), chicken breast only, pork tenderloin only, or vegetarian.

The event begins with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed bydinner and the awards presentations. Outstanding Contribution awards will begiven to Drs. Walt Mills, Jeff Sugarman and Brad Drexler. In addition, Dr. MarkNetherda will receive the Article of the Year award for “Sonoma County’sLagging Immunization Rates,” which appeared in the Winter 2009 issue of Sonoma Medicine.Finally, the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency Consortium will receive aspecial award for recognition of achievement.

The Awards Dinner is SCMA’s most popular event, with upwardsof 200 people attending each year. It’s a great way to get together withfriends and honor your colleagues. All you have to do is RSVP to Rachel at525-4375 or See youthere!


Reminder: Directory Verification forms due Nov. 2

All local physicians are reminded to return their 2010Sonoma County Physician Directory verification forms by Monday, Nov. 2. Theforms were mailed in September. If you need a copy, contact Rachel Pandolfi at or 525-4375.

Along with their verification forms, SCMA members receiveddues invoices for next year. Members who pay their dues by Dec. 31 qualify fora 5% discount. Payments need to be at SCMA by Dec. 31; there is no grace period. Installment payments can be arranged.

Nonmember physicians can complete a simple onlineapplication for SCMA and CMA at


CMA working with Congress to shape health reform bills

House Democratic leaders have unveiled their latest versionof health reform in HR 3962, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009”and HR 3961, “Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009.” A summary andtimeline for HR 3962, along with an update by CMA Vice President ElizabethMcNeil, have been posted at

In her update, McNeil states: “CMA is still reviewing thebills, but will likely continue to support some provisions and oppose others.CMA is continuously working to improve the bill and indeed, several improvementswere made to HR 3962. However, there are two enormously important reforms thatare vital to physicians and their patients. Those reforms include 1) the SGRrepeal and the $400 billion in Medicare and Medicaid physician payment fixes;and 2) the insurance industry reforms and a repeal of health plan anti-trustexemptions.”

“The CMA will continue to fight,” writes McNeil. “Mostpredictions are that health reform will happen this year. Therefore, physiciansmust work now to improve the bills. We must let Members of Congress and thepublic know that the coverage expansions are an empty promise unless patientscan find a doctor.”


CMA survey: Do you need HIT assistance?

CMA has developed a statewide coalition seeking federalfunds to create a Regional Extension Center (REC) to provide technicalassistance to physicians and other providers in their transition to electronichealth records (EHR).

The California REC will offer technical assistance andservices to help the state’s physicians overcome the challenges of selecting,implementing, and becoming “meaningful users” of health information technology(HIT).

To assist CMA in its federal grant application, visit and downloadthe CMA HIT survey, which takes just a minute to complete. Then fax the surveyto CMA at 916-551-2036. Questions should be directed to 800-786-4262 or


Alliance Medical Center receives $385,000 for e-prescribing system

The Alliance Medical Center in Healdsburg has received a$385,000 grant from UnitedHealth Group to implement an electronic prescribingand medication management system. About 50 physicians and other safety netproviders will participate in the system, which includes a handhelde-prescribing device, drug lookup and dosage support, and prescriptiontransmission to pharmacies.

“Our community medication management model will providedecision support at the point of care, and will drive adherence alerts andreminders across a coordinated and connected rural health care community,” saidDr. Jeff Meckler, the medical director for Alliance, which serves a primarilyHispanic patient population. The system is expected to begin operating in 2011.


Four District 10 resolutions adopted at CMA House

Four resolutions from District 10, which includes SonomaCounty, were adopted at the CMA House of Delegates in October. The resolutionswill be used to set CMA policy and priorities for 2010. Summaries and authorsof the resolutions appear below.

·      Cigarettefilters (Klay and Goodwin) would impose a fee on each cigarette filter tomitigate the environmental and public health risks from discarded filters.

·      Healthpolicy and practice management (Goodwin and Bretan) would encourage theinclusion of health policy and practice management courses in the standardmedical school curriculum.

·      Criminalizationof marijuana (Bedard) asks CMA to regard the criminalization of marijuanaas a failed public health policy and encourages CMA to participate in thedebate about changing current policy.

·      End-of-lifecare (Bedard) asks CMA to petition Congress to hold public hearings onend-of-life care.

All SCMA members are invited to submit resolutions forconsideration at next year’s House of Delegates. For details, contact CynthiaMelody at or 525-4359.


Orange County physician named CMA president

Orange County physician Dr. Brennan Cassidy is the newpresident of CMA. “It’s our mission to restore the health of our patients,” hesaid in an address to nearly 1,000 physicians at last month’s CMA House ofDelegates. “As the national debate on health care reform moves forward, it’scrucial that physicians communicate clearly and loudly about what we need to doour jobs and provide the high quality of care that is today’s standard.”

Delegates also chose Bay Area trauma surgeon Dr. JamesHinsdale as CMA president-elect. Hinsdale is director of trauma at MarinGeneral Hospital and executive director of trauma at Regional Medical Center inSan Jose. 


CMA sues state to end medical board furloughs

CMA filed a lawsuit last month seeking to end furloughs forthe staff of the Medical Board of California, which is backlogged withphysician license applications and other important administrative workaffecting the quality and accessibility of medical care.

Because the governor has furloughed state employees threedays per month, the medical board can no longer maintain adequate staffing,resulting in an unprecedented buildup of license applications and disciplinaryinvestigations and enforcements. Qualified physicians who are unlicensed butready and able to practice medicine must sit idle.

“There is already a physician shortage in California,” saidDr. Dev GnanaDev, past president of CMA. “Because the medical board cannot keepup with current licensing demand, communities lacking access to health carewill have to wait even longer to attract new physicians.”

The lawsuit says the furlough order is illegal because themedical board is funded by physician fees. CMA is also objecting to theredirection of $6 million of medical board contingency funds into the state’sgeneral fund. 


Possible data breach for Anthem and Blue Shield physicians

More than 10,000 California doctors contracted with AnthemBlue Cross and Blue Shield of California are being notified that their personalinformation, including Social Security, taxpayer ID, and NPI numbers, may havebeen compromised when a laptop containing sensitive data was stolen. Whilethere have been no reported misuses of this information, physicians are urgedto take steps to protect themselves from identity theft.

The theft occurred in late August in the Chicago area when aBlue Cross-Blue Shield Association employee’s laptop was stolen from a car. Thebreach involved a data set containing information on as many as 800,000physicians, including names, addresses, tax ID numbers, and NPI numbers.Physicians who use their Social Security numbers as their taxpayer ID numbersshould have received a letter notifying them of the data breach, urging them totake advantage of the free credit monitoring services being offered to affectedphysicians by the insurers.

Questions about the data breach should be directed to BlueShield at 800-258-3091 or Anthem at 800-933-6633.


Webinar on Medicare RAC audits on Nov. 19

The Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association (ACCMA) issponsoring a webinar on Medicare RAC audits from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 19.The 2009 audits are underway, and Medicare expects to recover $18 billion inpayments from physicians and other Medicare providers. The webinar willhighlight the items RAC auditors are looking for and the compliance stepsphysicians can take to minimize the amounts recovered. Cost is $20 for CMAmembers or $75 for nonmembers. To register, visit and downloadthe Medicare RAC Audit Webinar registration form. Then complete and fax theform to ACCMA at 510-654-8959. You will be sent further registrationinstruction by fax or e-mail.


SCMA Alliance seeks help for foster children and medical scholarships

With the holidays fast approaching, the SCMA Alliance and Foundation would like to remind local physicians about two longstanding charitable projects.

The Give-a-Gift program, now in its 56th year, allows community members to purchase a holiday gift for a foster child who may not otherwise receive a present. The program, which directly benefits more than 250 children, also provides computers to youth leaving the foster system and entering college. Cosponsors include the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home, the Sonoma County Human Services Department, and the SCMA Alliance Foundation. For more information, contact Ann Hurd at 537-1031 or

The Holiday Greeting Card, now in its 47th year, raises scholarship money for local students wishing to pursue medical careers. The 2009 card will feature the work of local artist Louisa King Fraser. The scholarships, which are awarded by the SCMA and SCMA Alliance Health Careers Scholarship Committee, provide critical financial assistance at a time when community resources are fast depleting. Since the project began in 1962, scholarships have been awarded to more than 700 local students, including several who went on to become practicing physicians in Sonoma County. Donations can be made online at


Funds needed for ultrasound machine in Tanzania

The nonprofit Foundation for African Medicine &Education (FAME) needs $12,000 to help pay for an ultrasound machine at itsclinic in rural Tanzania. The machine, delivered to the clinic in October, hasalready saved lives and is in constant use as a diagnostic tool.

Dr. Loie Sauer and her daughter Emily Goldfield, who visitedthe clinic earlier this year, are leading local fundraising efforts for FAME.“They are making a big impact in an area where health care needs are massiveand good health care is hard to come by,” said Sauer.

Details about the clinic are available online at Donations can be madevia the FAME website or by contacting Dr. Sauer at or 484-6090. Allcontributions are fully tax-deductible.


Nov. 22 run on Mare Island to benefit local nonprofits

Touro University Medical School and several otherorganizations are cosponsoring a 5K charity run on Mare Island on Nov. 22 tobenefit local nonprofits. Registration is $30 for adults and $15 for students.To register, visit


Dr. James Campisano dies at 59

Longtime SCMA member Dr. James Campisano died in October atage 59, of pancreatic cancer. An obstetrician-gynecologist, he moved to SonomaCounty in 1981 to work for the fledgling Kaiser Santa Rosa, where he spent therest of his career, serving as chief of his department from 1995 to 2004. Amonghis many accolades, he received a Physician Hero award for his work with thePermanente Medical Group and a Sydney Garfield award for being the mostoutstanding doctor at Kaiser Santa Rosa.

Born in Ohio in 1950, Campisano received his MD from theUniversity of Arizona and completed his ob-gyn residency at Valley MedicalCenter in Fresno. He served in the U.S. Army for two years before moving toSanta Rosa. He was well known for his athletic, artistic and epicureanpursuits. Memorial donations may be made to the James D. Campisano PancreaticCancer Fund, c/o Community Foundation Sonoma County, 250 D St. #205, Santa Rosa95404.



Renee Armstrong, MD, FamilyMedicine*, 510 Doyle Park Dr., Santa Rosa 95405, 526-1800, Fax 526-9352, UC SanFrancisco 1994

Navneet Attri, MD, InternalMedicine, 3883 Airway Dr. #201, Santa Rosa 95403, 521-8900, Fax 523-1309,Punjab Univ 2000

Laurie Cederberg, MD,Family Medicine*, 510 Doyle Park Dr., Santa Rosa 95405, 526-1800, Fax526-9352, UC San Francisco 1988

Indranushi Chaliha,MD, Pediatrics, 255 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa 95405, 545-2255, Fax 545-0456,, Gauhati Univ 1997

Jenny Fish, MD, FamilyMedicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220, Fax 303-3318,, UnivMinnesota 2009

Ellen Green, MD, FamilyMedicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220, Fax 303-3318,, UnivMassachusetts 2009

Kari Harris, MD, FamilyMedicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220, Fax 303-3318,, UC SanDiego 2009

Wendy Kohatsu, MD, FamilyMedicine, 3324 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 576-4070, Fax 576-4087, UC LosAngeles 1994

Kenneth Lamb, MD, CriticalCare Medicine, 3325 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 576-4000, Fax 573-5126, UnivUtah 1973

Naomi McAuliffe, DO, FamilyMedicine*, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, 510 Doyle Park Dr., Santa Rosa95405, 526-1800, Fax 526-9352, Univ New England 2001

Gary McLeod, MD, FamilyMedicine, 510 Doyle Park Dr., Santa Rosa 95405, 526-1800, Fax 526-9352,, UC SanFrancisco 1987

Katie Noyes, MD, FamilyMedicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220, Fax 303-3318,, DartmouthMed Sch 2009

Daniel Parker, MD, FamilyMedicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220, Fax 303-3318,, TuftsUniv 2008

Lawrence Slater, MD, FamilyMedicine*, 510 Doyle Park Dr., Santa Rosa 95405, 526-1800, Fax 526-9352, UnivSouthern California 1976

Behram Soonawala, MD,Internal Medicine*, 3325 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 576-4000, Fax573-5126, Bombay Univ 1990

Anthony Stavros, MD, DiagnosticRadiology*, 625 Steele Lane , Santa Rosa 95403, 576-4800, Fax 576-4825,

Kamin Van Guilder, MD,Family Medicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220, Fax303-3318,

Jimmy Wu, MD, FamilyMedicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa 95404, 547-2220, Fax 303-3318,

Uzay Yasar, MD, Urology*,3883 Airway Dr. #203, Santa Rosa 95403, 521-8900, Fax 523-4638, SUNY Brooklyn1996

* board certified



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How to submit a classified ad
To submit a classified ad for SCMA News Briefs or Sonoma Medicine, contact NanPerrott at nperrott@rhscommunications.comor 707-525-4226. The cost is one dollar per word.



The Sonoma County Medical Association, a 501(c)(6) nonprofitassociation, supports local physicians and their efforts to enhance the healthof the community. Founded in 1858, SCMA is affiliated with the CaliforniaMedical Association and the American Medical Association.

© SCMA 2009
3033 Cleveland Ave. #104
Santa Rosa, CA 95403



You are receiving SCMA News Briefs because you are aphysician or an affiliated medical professional in Sonoma County. If you wishto unsubscribe, contact Steve Osborn at sosborn@scma.orgor 707-525-4325.


October 2009

Drs. Mills, Sugarman and Drexler to receive SCMA awards

Drs. Walt Mills, Jeff Sugarman and Brad Drexler will receiveOutstanding Contribution awards at the SCMA Awards Dinner on Dec. 2. Awardswill also be presented to the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency Consortiumand for the Sonoma Medicine Article of the Year.

Mills, a family physician at Kaiser Santa Rosa, will receivethe Outstanding Contribution to the Community award for his work with theresidency program, the Southwest Community Health Center and the NorthernCalifornia Center for Well-Being.

Sugarman, a dermatologist and pediatric dermatologist inprivate practice in Santa Rosa, will receive the Outstanding Contribution toSonoma County Medicine award for establishing the dermatology clinic atAlliance Medical Center and for his leadership activities on the SCMA SpecialtyAccess Task Force, which has expanded access to specialists throughout thecounty.

Drexler, a Healdsburg obstetrician and gynecologist and pastSCMA president, will receive the Outstanding Contribution to SCMA award for hisleadership at the medical association and his continuing commitment to publichealth and Medicare reform.

The residency consortium will receive a special Recognitionof Achievement award for their efforts to ensure a stable future for the familymedicine residency. The Article of the Year winner will be announced in lateOctober.

The awards dinner—scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. at the Vintner’sInn, 4350 Barnes Rd., Santa Rosa—is freefor SCMA members, but RSVPs are required. Tickets for spouses, guests andnonmembers are $50 each. To RSVP and/or to purchase tickets, contact RachelPandolfi at 525-4375 or


SCMA membership up 3% since 2008; invoices in the mail

Despite the recession and continuing turmoil in the healthcare system, membership in SCMA has increased 3% since 2008. The current totalis 641 active members and 144 retired, with several applicants waiting in thewings. Membership in CMA increased this year as well, rising about 1% from33,648 to 34,088, including retired members.

SCMA members are reminded to return their 2010 Sonoma CountyPhysician Directory verification forms, which were mailed in September alongwith dues invoices for next year. Members who pay their dues by Dec. 31 qualifyfor a 5% discount. Payments need to be at SCMA by Dec. 31; there is no grace period. Installment payments can be arranged.

If you need a copy of your invoice or have any questionsabout dues, contact Rachel Pandolfi at rachel@scma.orgor 525-4375. Nonmember physicians can complete a simple online application forSCMA and CMA at


Partnership Health Plan starts in Sonoma County

Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC) beganimplementing its managed Medi-Cal program in Sonoma County on Oct. 1. More than80% of the 48,000 Medi-Cal enrollees managed by PHC have selected a primarycare provider; those that did not were assigned to open practices.

PHC will work with local physicians to maintain continuityof care and resolve any issues related to the transition to managed Medi-Cal.Training sessions for physician offices are available by contacting the PHCprovider relations department at 863-4100.

Important PHC phone numbers include:

·      Provider relations: 863-4100

·      Member services: 863-4120

·      Health services: 863-4133 (referral or TARinformation)

·      Pharmacy Services: 863-4414

·      Claims: 863-4130

·      Automated eligibility verification: 863-4140

Claims for services provided to PHC members on or afterOctober 1st should be sent to:

Partnership HealthPlan ofCalifornia
PO Box 1368
Suisun City, CA 94585-1368

Providers should use Quest Lab for all diagnostic proceduresfor PHC members. For the provider directory, formulary and additionalinformation, visit


Memorial Hospital rated No. 1 in nation for rapid heart attack response

Contrary to popular belief, the fastest “door-to-balloon”time for patients with ST segment myocardial infarction (STEMI) isn’t at somebig-city medical center—it’s at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The most recentrankings of 949 U.S. hospitals by the American College of Cardiology found thatMemorial offered the quickest response for STEMI patients, averaging just 66minutes from presentation at the ER to restoration of blood flow. The nationalstandard of care is 90 minutes or less.

Memorial officials attributed the No. 1 ranking to recentinnovations at Coastal Valleys Emergency Medical Services and the hospital’sCardiac Catheterization Lab. “We wanted a 90-minute limit between detection ofSTEMIs by paramedics treating patients at their homes or in the community andany Cath Lab intervention,” said Coastal Valleys administrator Bryan Cleaver.“For us, it’s home-to-balloon time.”

Coastal Valleys paramedics using a 12-lead electrocardiogramcan now identify STEMI patients on scene and alert the hospital, which recentlymoved its Heart & Vascular Institute next to the ER. When paramedicsarrive, an already assembled team of cardiologists, emergency physicians andnurses moves STEMI patients quickly through the ER and into the Cath Lab fortreatment. Because of better coordination, pre-Cath Lab prep time was reducedto as little as 13 minutes in some cases.


Management shuffle at Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa

Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa has a new chiefadministrative officer, but the old one is still close at hand. The new officeris Michael Purvis, who took over on Sept. 28. His predecessor, Mike Cohill, nowa senior vice president of Sutter Health, will continue to lead efforts tobuild a new Sutter hospital in Santa Rosa. He will also retain his post as CEOof Sutter Medical Foundation North Bay.

Purvis, a hospital consultant, was previously a regionaldirector for Saint Joseph Health System and a hospital and clinic administratorin Arizona. 


Feds take baby steps on medical liability reform

In his Sept. 9 speech to Congress on health care reform,President Obama ruled out caps on non-economic damage awards, such as the$250,000 cap in California’s landmark Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act(MICRA), in effect since 1975. Obama did, however, indicate that he supportspilot projects for reducing the financial impact of medical liability lawsuits.Accordingly, the Department of Health and Human Services in late Septemberunveiled a modest plan that would examine ways to discourage frivolous medicalmalpractice lawsuits. Under the plan, the federal government would provide $25million in grants to identify practices that reduce medical errors, lowermalpractice insurance premiums, and prevent frivolous lawsuits.

Meanwhile, concern is growing among physicians about theliability implications of “comparative effectiveness” research, which attemptsto objectively demonstrate the effectiveness of medical treatments. CMA andother advocacy groups are trying to ensure that physicians are protected ifthey deviate from any clinical guidelines produced through such research. CMAbelieves that physicians must be allowed to deviate from practice guidelineswhen in their clinical judgment it is in their patient's best interest, withoutbeing exposed to increased liability. CMA also believes that data gleaned fromsuch research must not be independently used to establish standards of care ordeny coverage, or be used as evidence in medical malpractice cases.

Even as these new challenges arise, CMA continues to defendMICRA, which has kept malpractice premiums in California low, compared to thosein other states without such laws. Once the highest in the nation, Californiamalpractice premiums fell 12% from 1986 (the year the constitutional challengesto MICRA were exhausted) to 2000, while rising 55% nationally. Today, theaverage California physician saves $58,000 a year in malpractice insurancepremiums when compared to colleagues in Florida, New York, and Michigan. 


Three CMA-sponsored bills await Schwarzenegger signature

Three CMA-sponsored bills have passed the Legislature and now await the governor’s signature:

Unlawful rescission. AB 2 (De La Torre) would prevent the practice of health plans and insurers wrongfully rescinding coverage for patients after they become seriously ill. The bill would require insurers to obtain approval from an independent review organization before rescinding a patient’s health insurance.

Peer review. AB 120 (Hayashi) bill would increase fairness and transparency in the peer review system, helping to ensure high quality care in California hospitals.

Osteopathic physicians. SB 606 (Ducheny) would make osteopathic physicians eligible for the Steven M. Thomson Loan Repayment Program. The program, currently open only to MDs, provides medical school loan repayment grants of up to $105,000 in exchange for a three-year service commitment in a medically underserved area of the state.

For more information on these and other bills, visit CMA’s Legislative Hot List at


Physicians urged to preregister for H1N1 vaccine

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is urgingphysicians to preregister for the H1N1 vaccine, which is expected to beavailable in mid to late October. Even if you are not ready to place an order,you must register now to inform CDPH of your interest in being a vaccinator.

Unlike seasonal flu vaccine, H1N1 vaccine will bedistributed by CDPH, rather than regular suppliers. California is expected toreceive 8 million doses by late October, with an additional 2 million doses perweek thereafter.

Physicians are being asked to register as vaccinators soCDPH can get a realistic assessment of physician capacity and interest invaccinating. When registering, be prepared to submit your National ProviderIdentification number, the projected number of doses of the vaccine your practiceexpects to use, and the number of patients your practice has that fit intohigh-risk groups. By registering, you are not making a commitment to administerthe same quantity of vaccine.

To register, visit



Interested inattending a seminar on risk management?

NORCAL Mutual Insurance has offered to provide free two-hourseminars on risk management to interested physicians. The seminars, which wouldinclude CME, would help physicians improve patient follow-up and tracking,understand informed consent, and apply risk-management documentation practices.

If you are interested in such a seminar, contact RachelPandolfi at or 525-4375.Seminars will be scheduled based on physician response.


Latino Health Forumin Santa Rosa on Oct. 8

An all-day forum on Latino health will be held at theFlamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa on Thursday, Oct. 8. The featured speaker is Dr.Anthony Iton, the public health officer of Alameda County, who will discuss howsocial concerns relate to health outcomes and inequities. Iton’s speech will befollowed by a series of workshops on social and economic factors that affecthealth access and quality of care.

The conference qualifies for up to 6.25 hours of CME; costis $125. To register, visit www.scafem.orgor call 527-6223.


Wine tasting on Oct.10 to benefit student AMA/CMA chapter

A wine tasting to benefit the student AMA/CMA chapter atTouro University Medical School will be held in St. Helena on Saturdayafternoon, Oct. 10. Medical students, physicians, spouses and guests fromthroughout the North Bay are invited to enjoy fine wines and cheeses at theEhlers Estate Winery, 3222 Ehlers Lane, St. Helena. Cost is $40 per person ($20for students). To RSVP, contact Sarah Zitsman at or 415-894-5250.


Adolescent HealthConference in Santa Rosa on Oct. 13

An all-day conference on adolescent health will be held atthe DHS Conference Center (475 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa) on Tuesday, Oct. 13.Topics include an update on adolescent health in Sonoma County, use of the AHWGBehavioral Health Toolkit, and serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgenderyouth. Cost is $50. To register, contact Adrienne Davis at or 566-5278.



CEO of ColoradoMedical Society to take helm at CMA

Alfred Gilchrist, CEO of the Colorado Medical Society andformer director of government advocacy for the Texas Medical Association, willbecome chief executive of CMA in November. Gilchrist brings 30 years of experienceto CMA, including groundbreaking achievements in patient rights, medicalliability, and tobacco control measures.

“Alfred Gilchrist’s invaluable experience and demonstratedtalents at the state and federal level could not come at a more crucial time,as our nation discusses how to improve our health care system,” said CMAPresident Dr. Dev GnanaDev. “Alfred’s leadership and vision will greatlyenhance our efforts to expand access to quality health care, improve the publichealth, and maintain practice viability for the physicians of California.”


Drs. Baginsky, Millerand Richards retiring

Three longtime SCMA members have announced their retirementplans.

Dr. Peter Baginsky, who has been on medical leave from hisdiabetes specialty at Sutter Medical Group since January, will not be returningto practice. He can still be reached at

Dr. Mike Miller, a psychiatrist at Kaiser Santa Rosa, andDr. Alfonso Richards, a Petaluma urologist, will also be retiring this fall.



Anna Dematteis, MD
Family Medicine*
401 Bicentennial Way
Santa Rosa 95403
393-4104  Fax 393-4146
Univ Wisconsin 2006

Nathan Ehmer, DO
Orthopaedic Surgery
1405 Montgomery Dr.
Santa Rosa  95405
546-1922  Fax 528-1602
Arizona Coll Osteo Med 2003

Victor Iacovoni, MD
Internal Medicine*
Pulmonary Disease*
3325 Chanate Rd.
Santa Rosa 95404
Hahnemann Univ 1970

Jennifer Mankowski, MD
Obstetrics & Gynecology
401 Bicentennial Way
Santa Rosa 95403
393-4135  Fax 393-4337
Univ Michigan 2005

Cynthia Wu, MD
3925 Old Redwood Hwy.
Santa Rosa 95403
566-5250  Fax 566-5292
New York Univ 1998

* board certified



Collections Seminar
Cal Coast Credit is pleased to present a collections seminar, "ImproveYour Bottom Line."
Date: Thursday, October 22
Time: 2 to 4 p.m.
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Medical Office Space
Small suite available for reasonable rent. Three exam rooms, southeastSanta Rosa. Call Connie, 707-525-0211.

How to submit a classified ad
To submit a classified ad for SCMA News Briefs or Sonoma Medicine, contact NanPerrott at nperrott@rhscommunications.comor 707-525-4226. The cost is one dollar per word.



A story in our September issue misspelled the name of thecounty’s director of alcohol and drug services. The correct spelling is GinoGiannavola.



The Sonoma County Medical Association, a 501(c)(6) nonprofitassociation, supports local physicians and their efforts to enhance the healthof the community. Founded in 1858, SCMA is affiliated with the CaliforniaMedical Association and the American Medical Association.

© SCMA 2009
3033 Cleveland Ave. #104
Santa Rosa, CA 95403



You are receiving SCMA News Briefs because you are aphysician or an affiliated medical professional in Sonoma County. If you wishto unsubscribe, contact Steve Osborn at sosborn@scma.orgor 707-525-4325.


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