Keeping You Connected

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

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March 2009


National physician leader Dr. Palmer to speak in Santa Rosa on March 4


Dr. Elissa J. Palmer, president of the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, will be in Santa Rosa on March 4 to speak on the future of primary care. Her speech begins at 6 p.m. in the Carston Cabaret Room at the Wells Fargo Center.

Dr. Palmer will discuss innovative models of patient-centered primary care and characteristics of successful primary care practices. Her speech, sponsored by the Sonoma Health Access Coalition, is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested. To RSVP, contact Donna Paul at dpaul@rchc.net or 547-7242, ext. 32.

For additional information about Dr. Palmer and the Sonoma Health Access Coalition, visit sohac.blogspot.com.

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SCMA members to receive patient-feedback postcards for Doctors Day


March 30 is National Doctors Day, and SCMA and the SCMA Alliance are marking the occasion by distributing colorful patient-feedback postcards to the offices of SCMA members. Patients can use the postcards to comment on what makes their doctors special. The cards can be left at the doctor’s office or mailed to the SCMA Alliance, which will gather the comments and share them with individual doctors.

Each year, Doctors Day gives patients a chance to show gratitude to their physicians. The first celebration was held in Georgia in 1933, and Congress officially designated March 30 as National Doctors Day in 1990.

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Jerry Brown to speak at CMA Legislative Day on April 14


Attorney General Jerry Brown heads the list of speakers at CMA’s annual Legislative Day in Sacramento on April 14. Hundreds of physicians from across the state are expected to gather in the capital that day to hear Brown and others discuss healthcare policy in a series of morning and luncheon briefings. During the afternoon, SCMA members will be able to meet face-to-face with legislators from Sonoma County.

All SCMA members are encouraged to attend this annual free event. CMA provides all meals and conference materials free of charge. To RSVP, contact Rachel Pandolfi at 525-4375 or rpandolfi@scma.org. SCMA will coordinate carpools.

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Nominations needed for SCMA elections


Nominations for the following SCMA positions are due by March 20:

*     SCMA president-elect

*     Individual SCMA board representatives from Healdsburg (1), Petaluma (1), and Santa Rosa (2)

*     Two CMA delegates

*     Two CMA alternate delegates

All positions require a three-year commitment, beginning July 1. Nominations can be e-mailed to cmelody@scma.org, faxed to 525-4328, or mailed to SCMA, 3033 Cleveland Ave. #104, Santa Rosa, CA 95403. Each nomination should include a brief statement about the nominee's qualifications.

For more details, contact Cynthia Melody at cmelody@scma.org or 525-4359.

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Health Action takes first steps with iWalk program


Hard on the heels of the iPod and the iPhone, the local Health Action council is stepping out with iWalk, a coordinated effort to promote walking in Sonoma County. The council, which includes SCMA members Dr. Mary Maddux-González and Dr. Bo Greaves, will soon launch a media campaign to encourage bipedal locomotion throughout the county.

Among the many aspects of the campaign will be efforts to improve the walkability of communities and support existing walking groups. For more information, visit www.sonomahealthaction.org.

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Redwood Regional to spend $2 million on new equipment and offices


Despite the foundering economy, Redwood Regional Medical Group plans to spend roughly $2 million over the next few months to purchase equipment and renovate its offices. About half the money will go for new equipment, including two digital mammography machines. The remaining funds will be used to remodel RRMG facilities in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

The plans were announced by interim CEO Wayne Fairchild, who joined RRMG last fall. The privately owned group has 10 campuses throughout the North Bay and several dozen physicians on staff.

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PFMC grant deadline is April 1


Nonprofit health organizations in Sonoma County are encouraged to apply for Community Grants from the Pacific Foundation for Medical Care. The grants, generally in the $10,000 range, are awarded twice a year by the nonprofit foundation to support local projects that enhance health services.

The application deadline for the next round of grants is April 1. For application materials, contact Marilyn Flowers at 800-548-7677, Ext. 120, or mflowers@rhs.org. For more information, visit www.pfmc.org.

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Stimulus plan includes $19 billion for electronic health records


The economic stimulus package recently signed by President Obama provides approximately $19 billion for electronic health records over the next five years, including bonus payments upwards of $40,000 for each Medicare provider who demonstrates “meaningful use” of an EHR system.

Physicians with significant Medi-Cal patient loads (20% or more for pediatricians, 30% or more for other specialties) may be eligible for additional bonuses paid through state Medicaid programs. As eligibility is based on usage, even physicians who already use EHR systems may be eligible. While the bill does include Medicare payment reductions (starting at 1%) for physicians who do not implement EHR systems, these do not take effect until 2015, and there are exceptions for significant hardship cases.

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Medi-Cal giveth and taketh away


California’s recent budget agreement eliminates optional benefits in Medi-Cal for adult dental, acupuncture, audiology, chiropractic, optometry, podiatry, psychology and incontinence treatments. Although there are no reductions for physicians beyond the previously scheduled 1% cut on March 1, reimbursements to public hospitals will be reduced by 10%.

These and other spending cuts may be averted, however, if California takes advantage of the increased federal matching funds available via the federal government’s economic stimulus plan. Under that legislation, a state’s eligibility and renewal procedures for the Medicaid program (Medi-Cal in California) cannot be more limiting than they were on July 1, 2008.

As part of the budget deal enacted last September, California moved from annual to semi-annual reporting for children in Medi-Cal. If that provision is lifted, California will receive $3.7 billion in additional Medi-Cal funds this year, and $11.2 billion total over the next three years.

In Sonoma County, the Partnership Health Plan Managed Medi-Cal implementation is expected to begin on Oct. 1. Details of that plan will be rolled out later this year.

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Pfizer to disclose payments to physicians


Beginning in 2010, Pfizer will disclose on its website all payments to physicians or other prescribers that exceed $500 in a year. A handful of other drugmakers, including Merck and Eli Lilly, have also announced plans to disclose payments to physicians who serve as speakers and consultants for the company.

The drugmakers’ actions come on the heels of proposed federal legislation to require such disclosures. So far, Pfizer is the only drugmaker to include in its disclosures payments to doctors who work on clinical studies and write up reports for medical journals.

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009 would require makers of drugs and medical devices to report annually all payments to doctors over $100 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The bill includes penalties of up to $1 million for knowingly failing to report such information.

The Sunshine Act is consistent with CMA policy, which supports mandatory disclosure of financial relationships between physicians and drug companies, with the exception of pharmaceutical samples for patients and meals in conjunction with educational meetings.

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Joint Commission requires collection of physician performance data


The Joint Commission has begun requiring medical staffs to collect physician-specific performance data on a regular basis, in addition to the every two-year credentialing cycle. The goal for this “ongoing professional practice evaluation” (OPPE) is to ensure that all physicians with medical staff privileges are monitored routinely and regularly—regardless of whether there are specific performance issues—to find problems in a timelier manner and take appropriate steps to improve quality.

The specific data to be collected will be determined by individual medical staffs, but it could include procedures performed and their outcomes, pharmaceutical usage, diagnostic tests ordered, length of stay patterns, and morbidity and mortality data.

More information on the Joint Commission’s OPPE standard is available in CMA ON-CALL Document #1498, “Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation.” ON-CALL documents are free to members at www.cmanet.org/member. Nonmembers can purchase the documents for $2 per page  at www.cmanet.org/bookstore.

For more details, contact Samantha Pellon at 916-551-2872 or spellon@cmanet.org.

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CME: Sign up now for 2009 CMA Leadership Academy discount


SCMA members who sign up for CMA’s annual Leadership Academy by March 24 will receive a $100 discount on the registration fee. The conference, which offers 17.5 hours of CME, will be held April 24-26 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

Topics include health system reform in a new era of Washington politics; the “medical home” and other emerging models for delivering quality care; the promises and perils of hospital EHR initiatives; and health disparities.

Attendees can also select from 14 breakout workshops on topics ranging from survival strategies for practicing in a turbulent economy, to mitigating malpractice risk and developing leadership skills.

Early bird registration by March 24 (including the $100 discount) is just $645 for members, $945 for nonmembers, and $245 for allied health professionals. Tuition for practice managers and other non-MD staff is $295 for CAMGMA members and $395 for nonmembers. SCMA members should register by contacting Cynthia Melody at cmelody@scma.org or 525-4359.

For more details, including the conference brochure, visit the Physician Resources page at www.scma.org.

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March CME presentations at SDC: anxiety disorders and kidney disease


The Sonoma Developmental Center will host two CME events in March. Both are scheduled for McDougall Hall from 1 to 2 p.m.

On March 5, Dr. Lorrin Koran will discuss management of anxiety disorders, and on March 12, Dr. Gopa Green will present case studies of chronic kidney disease. For details, call JoAnne Rawles at 938-6419.

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IMQ needs family physicians and internists as paid consultants


The Institute for Medical Quality is seeking board-certified family physicians or internists to serve on judicial review committees for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The review committees hear evidence regarding the quality of care provided by CDCR physicians.

Interested physicians must be available to serve for five consecutive days, once or twice per year. Physicians will be paid on an hourly basis for their time and reimbursed travel expenses.

For more information, visit www.imq.org/imqdoc.cfm/9 or contact Leslie Anne Iacopi at 415-882-5167 or liacopi@imq.org.

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CMA to host webinar on effective physician leaders


CMA is hosting a March 5 evening webinar on success factors for becoming an effective physician leader. The webinar runs from 8 to 8:45 p.m. To register, visit www.cmanet.org/calendar.

Dr. Susan Reynolds, president and CEO of the Institute for Medical Leadership, will discuss the UCLA Physician Leader Success Factor Study. Webinar registrants will receive a leadership assessment to help them understand their own leadership styles and how they can maximize their leadership effectiveness.

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CME: Primary care conference at Yosemite Lodge on April 3 and 4


A postgraduate institute for primary care physicians will be held at Yosemite Lodge on April 3 and 4. Topics include psychiatric challenges, the biology of aging, and cardiovascular diseases. Includes 16 hours of CME credit. To register, contact the Fresno Madera Medical Society at info@fmms.org or 559-224-4224.

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Medical office equipment for sale


Several items, including electric exam tables, scales, copier, exam stools, desk, chairs, etc. Excellent condition. Call Marie Johantgen, 707-799-7457, or e-mail rmrs100@sonic.net.

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