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Open Payments database now available for physician review

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Open Payments database, based on 2013 data, is available to physicians for their review of payments made to them by drug and medical device companies. The review period opened on April 6, 2015, and will be open until at least May 21. The Open Payments database is a part of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a provision of the Affordable Care Act. The California Medical Association (CMA) recommends that physicians review their data for accuracy as it will be published on ...

Senate Bill 277 clears Senate Judiciary Committee

Sacramento – Senate Bill 277 (Pan/Allen) passed overwhelmingly out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. The California Medical Association (CMA), American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAPCA), California Immunization Coalition (CIC), Vaccinate California and Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) recently launched the I Heart Immunity Campaign supporting the bill. “Our thanks to the Senate Judiciary Committee along with Senators Pan and Allen for their commitment to this very important issue,” said Luther F. Cobb, M.D., CMA president. “Vaccines are a proven way to keep children healthy and communities safe ...

CMA urges physicians to thank Congress for SGR vote

Congress was able to put differences aside and overwhelmingly pass H.R. 2—historic bipartisan, bicameral Medicare reform legislation—once and for all! The California members of Congress who supported H.R. 2 deserve a hearty "thank you" for their bold action to repeal Medicare's broken sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and ensure significant reforms are made to Medicare, shifting the focus to better care and better patient outcomes. H.R.2 also extends the expiring Children’s Health Insurance Program. For more details on the bill, click here for the California Medical Association’s (CMA) summary. Only two ...

Physicians warned of identity theft tax scam

For a second year, the California Medical Association (CMA) has received reports from physicians that fraudulent federal income tax returns have been filed using physician names, addresses and social security numbers. In many cases the fraudulent tax return includes the name of an unknown person listed as the physician's spouse. Generally, this other name is a prior patient of the physician. Affected physicians are likely to learn of the scam by receiving a 5071C letter from the IRS alerting them of possible fraud. Physicians may also have received a rejection ...

Leadership Academy opening session to feature Congressional leaders describing how SGR reform finally passed

For nearly two decades, physicians have had to work with the threat of massive cuts to Medicare hanging over their head from the sustainable growth rate (SGR). Somehow, during the most virulent Congressional partisanship in our history, a solution was reached and overwhelmingly passed both houses in April. The Western Health Care Leadership Academy is pleased to confirm that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will be joining the Leadership Academy faculty, along with Charlotte Ivancic, Policy Advisor for the Office of Speaker John Boehner, and Wendell Primus, Senior Policy Advisory ...

CMA Capitol Insight: April 27, 2015

CMA Capitol Insight is a biweekly column by veteran journalist Anthony York, reporting on the inner workings of the state Legislature. What's new in the Capitol It’s been a wild, tumultuous couple of weeks for the fight to remove the personal belief exemption for school-required vaccinations. It began when Sen. Richard Pan, M.D., first presented his proposal to the Senate Education Committee, and ran into some unanticipated opposition. Democratic Sens. Carol Liu and Loni Hancock expressed reservations about the measure, as did Republican Sen. Bob Huff. At the urging of the committee ...

California Medical Association responds to vote on Senate Bill 622

After today’s vote in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, California Medical Association President Luther F. Cobb, M.D., responded with the following statement regarding Senate Bill 622: "The amount of training to perform eye surgery stipulated by SB 622, even with the amendments adopted today, is still inadequate to ensure patient safety. Medical doctors perform hundreds more procedures and have tens of thousands more hours of training than what would be required of optometrists under this bill. All Californians deserve to have well-trained physicians to provide high-quality care, ...

Second bill to increase Medi-Cal rates advances through first committee

California’s policymakers are continuing to show support for legislation that would fully fund the state’s Medicaid (Medi-Cal) program. Two bills would restore a 10 percent reimbursement rate cut and raise those rates to Medicare levels, allowing better access to health care for patients. Assembly Bill 366 (Bonta, D-Oakland) and Senate Bill 243 (Hernandez, D-West Covina) are currently moving through the legislature. AB 366 took its first step through the legislative process when it advanced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee with unanimous approval on April 14. Last week, it was SB ...

CMA files amicus brief in health care provider whistleblower case

Last week, the California Medical Association (CMA) filed an amicus curiae brief in the California Supreme Court to urge a broad interpretation of the hospital whistleblower statute (Health and Safety Code section 1278.5). In Shaw v. Superior Court, defendant Los Angles Kindred Hospital terminated the plaintiff for complaining that the hospital was employing unlicensed and uncertified healthcare professionals. Following the termination, the plaintiff sued Kindred, arguing that health care providers who are categorized as whistleblowers are protected from retaliation by California Health & Safety Code section 1278.5. Last year, in Fahlen ...

San Francisco approves historic ordinance to ban tobacco use in county, city ballparks

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a first-of-its-kind ordinance against tobacco on Tuesday, prohibiting the use of all tobacco products at baseball venues within the county and city. The measure, which includes smokeless tobacco products in its ban, was passed with unanimous approval. It would affect both players and fans at ballparks and athletic fields — including AT&T Park — and take effect on January 1, 2016. However, it first needs final approval from the Board of Supervisors and a signature from Mayor Ed Lee. The final vote is ...