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California Medical Assn. Opposes Senate Healthcare Bill

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12/03/2009 07:19 PM
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California Medical Assn. Opposes Senate Healthcare Bill
California doctors group opposes U.S. Senate's healthcare plan
The California Medical Assn. says it would increase costs of services and restrict access for elderly and low-income people.

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

December 3, 2009

The state's largest doctors group is opposing healthcare legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate this week, saying it would increase local healthcare costs and restrict access to care for elderly and low-income patients.

The California Medical Assn. represents more than 35,000 physicians, making it the second-largest state medical group in the country after Texas.

Its executive committee met last week to discuss the Senate legislation proposed last month by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Association leaders plan to announce their opposition later this week before a vote is taken in the Senate, spokesman Andrew LaMar told The Times.

They join a handful of other state medical associations that have opposed the bill in recent weeks, including those in Florida, Georgia and Texas.

"The Senate bill came so short that we could not support it, even though we solidly support healthcare reform," said Dr. Dev GnanaDev, medical director at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in San Bernardino, who also serves on the group's executive committee.

Doctors are concerned that the Senate bill would shift Medicare funding from urban to rural areas, shift responsibility for Medicare oversight away from Congress by creating an independent Medicare commission and decrease Medicare reimbursement rates in the long term.

Medicare reimbursements would decrease 40% in coming years under the Senate bill, LaMar said. California doctors already contend with some of the lowest MediCal reimbursement rates in the nation, and although those would not change under the Senate bill, the pool of people eligible for coverage would increase, he said. Only about a third of California doctors currently accept MediCal, and GnanaDev said that would probably decrease under the Senate plan.

Healthcare legislation passed by the House would raise Medicare reimbursement rates to what LaMar said the association considers "a much more reasonable scale."

However, the association has not endorsed the House bill, which was backed by doctors last month at the national convention of the American Medical Assn. in Houston. The AMA has not taken a position on the Senate bill, although it sent a letter to Reid on Tuesday noting that it opposes the same provisions that California doctors cited, among others.

"We continue to have serious concerns about certain provisions in the bill, and we look forward to working with you and your Senate colleagues to secure additional changes to promote stable and sound health system reforms," wrote Dr. Michael Maves, the AMA's executive vice president.

California Medical Assn. officials have made their position clear to Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-Calif.), LaMar said, and have been told that the senators are conveying their concerns to congressional leaders. Boxer supports the bill; Feinstein has not yet taken a position.

[link to www.latimes.com]

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12/03/2009 07:29 PM
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Re: California Medical Assn. Opposes Senate Healthcare Bill
i have read this post twice. i still don't see anything about guns? what kind of a gun thread is this?

"By way of deception, thou shalt do war."

Israel's Mossad

"The truth shall set you free."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Motto
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12/03/2009 07:38 PM
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Re: California Medical Assn. Opposes Senate Healthcare Bill
The CMA is NOT an charitable organization. Their concerns over "care to the elderly and poor may increase in cost" really is seated in their fear that they may not be reimbursed as generously for providing routine care to these two populations as they have been in the past. An office visit, blood pressure check, lab results review, and a brief physical can cost as much as 290.xx in some of the higher cost areas of CA. In the less costly areas, the same reimbursement for the same services is usually held to $150 or a little bit more. The lower overhead areas will be forced to hold their costs down and the high rent areas will no longer get a "kicker" in their reimbursement based on their zip code! While they may well pay something more for their rent, they don't pay 38% more and even if they did, the differential per patient should not reflect that whole 38%. The docs in the middle of Beverly Hills and West LA or Downtown San Francisco are afraid that they're going to get paid at the same rate as their peers in Palmdale or Oakland or other less affluent areas. Part of the new healthcare bill wants to pay docs of equal skill sets the same for provision of the same services. While a specialist would always get a few dollars more per component of billing (because of his extra experience and expertise) the fact that his office is in a high dollar zip code does not make him a better doctor, nor does it justify his charging more for a decision he made many years ago when he went into practice, about where to locate his office!

Yet now both MediCare and the State run Medi-Cal are paying docs in high cost areas more for the same services than they pay the docs in the lower cost areas. The physicians do not want to loose this "kicker" that partially underwrites the cost of their overhead. But on the other hand, should you be charged more because you visit a doctor in an inner city and his rent is higher there than the guy in the suburbs?

This is just one area where the CMA is looking out for their own wallets and lying to the public and to congress about the true nature of their real concern. I for one would much rather hear them say "We need the extra dollars because our office costs us a lot more in this area or that area - but they don't have the guts to be candid about it. They try to manipulate and turn it around and make it a patient care issue - which it is not. It's purely and wholly a financial issue, and it would be nice if they acted as though the public was smart enough to figure out that simple truth.
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12/03/2009 07:40 PM
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Re: California Medical Assn. Opposes Senate Healthcare Bill
Texas Medical Assoc is opposed also.