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The SCMA and MLCMS keep you up to date on the latest news,
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May 2009


Guidelines for swine flu testing


As the swine flu situation continues to evolve, health officials in Sonoma County have asked providers to focus on the following types of patients for testing:

Hospitalized patients with ILI (influenza-like illness) who do not have another diagnosis.

Outpatients with ILI in one or more of the following categories:

* Patient is a contact of a confirmed swine influenza A (H1N1) case.

* Patient is in a high-risk setting for transmission (e.g., school, prison).

* Patient is part of a cluster of people (like a family) with ILI (only one patient needs laboratory confirmation).

* Patient returned from Mexico or another area with a high number of confirmed cases of swine flu within 7 days of illness onset or cared for ill household members with this travel history.

For guidelines on submitting specimens, call the Sonoma County Public Health lab at 565-4711 or visit sonoma-county.org/health/ph/. For the latest official information on swine flu, visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/swineflu or California Public Health at cdph.ca.gov.

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Feds vow to raise Medicare rates in Sonoma County


A summit called in mid-April by House Speaker Nancy Pelosiand Rep. Sam Farr to address the long-standing Medicare geographic paymentinequity in Sonoma and 11 other California counties concluded with a commitmentfrom federal officials to tackle the problem this year.

“This is a welcome breakthrough on a problem that hasreduced access to care for years,” said CMA President Dev A. GnanaDev, MD. “Ascosts have risen in places like Santa Barbara and San Diego counties, Medicarereimbursements have not kept up, and that has resulted in fewer doctors beingable to serve those patients.”

The Medicare payment formula includes a geographicadjustment factor (GAF) that adjusts the payment rate for local geographicmarket conditions. The goal is to base physician reimbursement on the cost ofproviding care in a particular geographic region.

The formula calculates a GAF for every California county,and assigns each county to one of nine Medicare regions in the state, calledpayment localities. Because of rapid growth and development in recent years,physicians in some California counties, including Sonoma, have practice coststhat are up to 10% greater than the average costs of other counties in theirpayment localities.

The Medicare summit included members of key House and Senatecommittees, along with representatives from CMA and Medicare. Participantsacknowledged that something must be done about the payment inequities butstopped short of agreeing on a solution.

SCMA and CMA have spent much of the last decade exploringpossible solutions to the Medicare reimbursement problem. Because federal lawrequires that geographic payment changes be budget neutral, CMA will only backa resolution that holds California’s other rural counties harmless.

For more information, contact CMA Vice President ElizabethMcNeil at 415-882-3376 or emcneil@cmanet.org.

 

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Dr Catherine Gutfreund nominated as SCMA president-elect


Dr. Catherine Gutfreund, a family medicine physician atKaiser Santa Rosa, has been nominated by her colleagues as SCMApresident-elect. Nominees for the board of directors include Drs. Brad Drexler,Phyllis Senter, Leonard Klay and Jose Morales. Nominees for the CMA delegationinclude Dr. Lela Emad and Drs. Senter, Klay and Gutfreund.

SCMA members will vote on the nominees in June. For more information,contact Cynthia Melody at cmelody@scma.org or 525-4359. book


RSVP now for SCMA Wine & Cheese Reception on May 28


All SCMA members and their spouses or guests are invited to SCMA’s annual Wine & Cheese Reception on Thursday evening, May 28. This year’s reception will be hosted by Dr. Richard and Julie Andolsen at their private vineyard near Healdsburg.

In addition to cheese and Andolsen Vineyard wines, the reception includes an informal alfresco dinner. There is no cost for SCMA members and their spouses or guests; the cost for nonmembers is $35 per person.

Reservations are required. To RSVP (and receive the address), contact Rachel Pandolfi at rpandolfi@scma.org or 525-4375.

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Still time to sign up for Human Race or SCMA Alliance Garden Tour


On May 9, a team from the SCMA Alliance will participate inthe annual Human Race, which raised more than $1 million for charity last year.Physicians and staff can support Team Alliance by signing up to participate inthe race or helping at the Team Alliance booth. To sign up, contact Ann Hurd at537-1031 or annhurd08@comcast.net or Kathleen Cortez at 483-4953 orkkcortez@sonic.net.

On May 15 and 16, the Alliance is sponsoring its annualGarden Tour in Sonoma. Participants can take self-guided tours of privategardens, enroll in gardening workshops, and enter a raffle for free dinners atCyrus Restaurant or the Farmhouse Inn.

Tickets for the Garden Tour are just $40; an optional lunchat Meritage Restaurant is $22. To purchase tickets, visit www.scmaa.org or callJanet Shane at 578-4537.

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Delivery of current Sonoma Medicine delayed for some subscribers


Because of problems with the post office, delivery of theSpring issue of Sonoma Medicine was delayed to some subscribers. The magazinewas mailed on April 2 and should have been received by mid-April at the latest.

If you still have not received your copy, you can view theonline version at scma.org. If you prefer, contact the editor, Steve Osborn, at525-4325 or sosborn@scma.org, and he will send you a copy via unstoppablefirst-class mail, while supplies last.

 

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California Supreme Court sides with CMA in peer review case


The California Supreme Court has issued a ruling that prevents peer review “hearing officers” from usurping the clinical decisions of the peer review body. In an amicus brief, CMA urged the court to place limits on the authority of hearing officers.

Hearing officers are usually laypeople without the expertise needed to make decisions on medical disciplinary charges. In the case at hand, a hearing officer’s decree to terminate a peer review hearing directly restricted a particular physician’s privileges. The restriction led to the filing of unproven disciplinary reports to state and federal agencies.

By terminating the hearing, the hearing officer essentially made a clinical determination that the physician was medically incompetent to practice at the hospital, thus depriving the physician of a fair hearing before his medical peers.

CMA’s brief argued that the granting of such powers to a hearing officer unlawfully deprives physicians of a fair hearing before their medical peers, and deprives patients of access to their physician of choice.

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Several health-related bills pending before California Legislature


Several CMA-sponsored bills arebeing considered by the California Legislature during its session, along withsome bills that CMA opposes. Highlights appear below.

Adequate reimbursement for vaccines (AB 1201). This CMA-sponsoredbill requires health plans to fully reimburse physicians for the costs ofimmunizations, including purchasing the vaccine, storage, supplies and stafftime. The bill also prohibits health plans from applying copays, deductiblesand other cost-sharing mechanisms to immunizations.

Unlawful Health Insurance Cancellation (AB 2). This CMA-sponsoredbill requires insurers to obtain approval from an independent revieworganization before rescinding a patient’s health insurance.

Car-Pool Lane Access for Physicians (AB 497). This CMA-sponsoredbill would allow physicians to use carpool lanes on the freeway when respondingto an emergency. The bill would expand current law, which allows physicians incertain circumstances to exceed speed limits when responding to emergencies.

Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice (SB 294). CMA is opposing thisbill, which would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners,allowing them to admit patients to the hospital and be designated as primarycare providers.

Corporate Medicine Bar (AB 648 and SB 726). These CMA-opposed billswould erode the ban on the corporate practice of medicine in California byallowing certain hospitals to hire physicians. Under current law, hospitals arebarred from hiring physicians as employees.

For more on these and otherbills, visit CMA’s Legislative Hot List at cmanet.org/news/hotlist.asp.

 

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Urgent Care Medicine conference in San Diego Sept. 23-25


The American Academy of UrgentCare Medicine is sponsoring a Sept. 23-25 conference in San Diego. Topicsinclude point-of-care chemistry analysis, back pain and otitis media. Up to 13hours of CME are available. To register, visit www.aaucm.org.

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Marsh offers Workers’ Compensation programs


Workers’ Compensation insurancerates may be increasing soon. One rating bureau has recommended a 24% increaseon July 1, and the Department of Insurance is recommending a 5% increase.

The SCMA-sponsored Workers’ Compensationprogram from Marsh offers members a 5% discount (possibly 15%, depending uponwhere you have your group medical coverage). The program is underwritten byEmployers Compensation Insurance Company.

For more information, contactMarsh at 800-842-3761. 

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Volunteers needed for Neighbors in Health


Last year, more than 500 children participated in Neighborsin Health, a day-long event that provides medical care, immunizations, wellchecks and dental exams to uninsured and underinsured children. Organizers hopeto serve even more children at this year’s event, scheduled for August 2. Tovolunteer, visit www.unitedwaywinecountry.org/nih.

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NCMA surgeons in Santa Rosa moving to new office on Fourth Street


The Santa Rosa surgery divisionof Northern California Medical Associates plans to move to a new office inearly May. The address is 1701 Fourth St., Suite 200. Phone (579-2100) and fax(523-0616) remain the same. The surgeons include Drs. Brian Schmidt, RobertWoodbury, Allen Cortez and Abdul Harris.

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Sixteen SCMA physicians receive awards from St. Joseph Health


The St. Joseph Health System ofSonoma County recently presented “Excellence in Patient Satisfaction” awards to21 local physicians, including 16 SCMA members. The awards, based on patientsurveys, honor physicians who provide outstanding care and communication.

The SCMA honorees included Drs.Lance Barlas, Tom Degenhardt, Patrick Devlin, Sanjay Dhar, Tom Dunlap, EldanEichbaum, Joel Erickson, Douglas Green, John Grollmus, Robert Khoo, SusanLogan, Kent Matsuda, Jeannie Pflum, Loie Sauer, Jan Sonander and Gary Stein.

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Residency program selects 12 top graduates for incoming class


From a pool of 400 applicants,the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency has selected 12 top medical schoolgraduates for its incoming class of 2012. The new residents—10 women and twomen—speak a total of 11 languages, and almost all are fluent in Spanish. Theybegin the residency, which has trained 288 physicians since 1938, on July 1.

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Sumit Kohli, MD
Gastroenterology*
Internal Medicine*
1210 Sonoma Ave. #B
Santa Rosa 95405
544-5093  Fax 528-8444
skohli@santarosagi.org
Univ Delhi 1996

* board certified

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Free orthopedics seminars in Sonoma


Queen of the Valley Medical Center is offering FREE one-hourorthopedic seminars at the Sonoma Community Center during May and June. Thepublic is invited.

* On May 12,beginning at 6:15 p.m., Dr. Daniel Birkbeck will present “Treating HandProblems.”

* On May 20, at6:30 p.m., Dr. Michael Shifflett and Dr. John Diana will present “TreatingArthritis of the Hip and Knee.”

* On June 3, at6:15 p.m., Dr. Stephen Franzino will present “Shoulder Pain: Treatment andRepair.”

For more information on the seminars, call 707-251-3509. TheCommunity Center is located at 276 E. Napa St. in Sonoma.

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Medical Office Space


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

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About SCMA


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

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To Unsubscribe


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.org or 707-525-4325.

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