2011 State Legislative Wrap Up
By Jodi Hicks, CMA
We weathered a storm this year, plain and simple. In a year fraught with budget woes, redistricting chaos, and an unpredictable new administration, the California Medical Association (CMA) overcame enormous shifts in the legislative and political landscapes....
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Highlights from CMA's 2010 House of Delegates
Hundreds of California doctors convened in Sacramento in October for the 2010 House of Delegates, the California Medical Association's annual meeting. Each year, physicians from all 53 California counties, representing all modes of practice, meet to discuss issues related to health care policy, medicine, and patient care, and to elect CMA officers. The following are summaries of some of the resolutions that the House adopted as policy.
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs): To ensure that quality of care and patients' interest are the highest priority, the delegates directed CMA to support legislation requiring that ACOs created as a result of federal health care reform legislation only be permitted to function in California if they are physician-led organizations (unless preempted by federal law).
California's physician workforce: The delegates created policy requiring CMA to develop a comprehensive strategy for achieving a more equitable distribution of physicians practicing in primary care specialties.
Medical student debt: The delegates asked CMA to explore new state, federal and private funding sources to reduce medical education debt for medical students, residents and fellows.
Preventive services awareness: The delegates voted that CMA, working with the CMA Foundation, seek funding to conduct a physician and public awareness campaign on the new federal requirement that insurers provide first dollar coverage (no copayment or deductible) for certain preventive services.
Insurance coverage for smoking cessation: Building on CMA's long-standing policy against the use of tobacco, the delegates voted to support state legislation requiring health plans to include coverage for tobacco cessation services, including counseling and both prescription and nonprescription medications approved by the FDA for tobacco cessation, without copayment, coinsurance or deductible.
Childhood immunizations: The delegates asked CMA to work with the California Department of Public Health to raise awareness of the importance of routine childhood immunization against vaccine preventable diseases. The resolution would achieve this by supporting mandatory posting of clearly visible signs in California schools, where the personal belief exemption rate exceeds 5 percent, alerting parents and families that their children are at increased risk of vaccine preventable disease due to potential loss of herd immunity.
High fructose corn syrup: The delegates passed a resolution requiring CMA to advise the public that extensive and increasing consumption of caloric sweeteners (and especially high fructose corn syrup) threatens the health of Californians. The resolution also called on CMA to take action to limit public consumption of caloric sweeteners.
Legalization of marijuana: The delegates recognized the public movement toward the legalization of marijuana and asked CMA to convene a technical advisory committee to develop policy recommendations on marijuana legalization, regulation and education.
Hospital visitation rights: The delegates voted to support the right of all patients in hospitals and other health care facilities to choose their visitors and to designate decision making power to whomever they wish. The delegates also resolved that hospitals should not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
Alternative medications: The delegates urged Congress to give FDA the authority and funding to regulate alternative medications, including homeopathic medications. The delegates also voiced support for requiring manufacturers of alternative medications to do studies to prove the efficacy of their products.
Tax deductibility for health care expenses: Reaffirming existing CMA policy, the delegates voted to support legislation allowing full income tax deductibility of all health insurance premiums as well as out-of-pocket expenses for physician fees and physician-prescribed treatments and diagnostic examinations.
The full text of these and other resolutions passed by the House of Delegates are available on CMA's members-only website, http://www.cmanet.org/member.