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Monday Rx: Healthcare for All, Policy Issues, Medicare, Small Practice Support and Upcoming Events

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Where do Members Stand on Healthcare for All?

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly highlighted the inequities rampant in California. In Los Angeles alone, the crisis decimated communities, small business, and private medical practices.

From access to testing and hospital beds, as well as rates of infections, lower-income areas of the state and county equate to lower access to sufficient healthcare. Fortunately, the CMA has advocated for a state budget package that makes progress towards reducing health disparities and increasing access to healthcare for many Californians and Angelinos who struggled to receive adequate care previously.

More specifically, the budget expands coverage through broader eligibility and tax credits for Covered California and through state-only expansion of Medi-Cal and supports access through tele-health and tele-medicine. It also makes permanent the augmentation of Medi-Cal payments for physicians through the Tobacco Tax, expands funding for workforce and physician training programs, and expands funding for mental health including a $30 million allocation to modernize the Kedren Psychiatric Hospital and its outpatient services in south Los Angeles.

Major Policy Issues Facing the House of Medicine in 2022 and Beyond

Public Option

As you may recall, in 2009 the Obama-Biden administration unsuccessfully proposed a Public Option health plan that would compete with the major health plans but that would also offer low-cost insurance to consumers while targeting sole proprietors and small businesses. Today, President Biden seems poised to make that proposal as part of his national health agenda.

Single Payer

The single payer proposal that proponents put forward this year, Assembly Bill 1400, failed to make it through the Assembly Rules Committee this week and is now a two-year bill, eligible to move in January 2022.

“The Governor has consistently said that single payer is where we need to be, and it’s a question of how you get there,” said Erin Mellon, a spokesperson for the governor says.

In January 2020, Newsom convened the Healthy California for All Commission with the goal of providing “coverage and access through a unified financing system, including, but not limited to a single payer financing system,” according to a press release about the launch. The committee went on hiatus on August 2020 because of the pandemic but resumed its regular meetings on May 21, 2021, and is scheduled to submit its final report in December 2021.

Medicare for All

Medicare-for-All advocates are pushing for a version of single payer that would expand the existing federal Medicare program to everyone in California.

Now that AB 1400 is a two-year bill, 2021 and 2022 will be important years to deliver a forum to generate perspectives, opinions and collaboration in a transparent, nonpartisan way, and void of any conflict of interest. LACMA president elect Dr. Omer Deen and LACMA board member and Health Equity Council tri chair, Dr. Hector Flores, will be leading an effort to engage members in a variety of ways to provide forums for discussion on these and perhaps other options.

In the coming weeks and months ahead, LACMA will host town halls, engage key groups such as the Health Equity Council, Public Health Council, Districts, Committees, CMA, and other subject matter experts to provide perspective on various options as we seek input from inside and outside the organization.

In the coming weeks and months ahead, LACMA will host town halls, engage key groups such as the Health Equity Council, Public Health Council, Districts, Committees, CMA, and other subject matter experts to provide perspective on various options as we seek input from inside and outside the organization.

I’d like to hear from you, please take this 30-second survey here.

COVID-19 Update: Los Angeles County Makes Progress/Pfizer News

The number of coronavirus patients in Los Angeles County hospitals fell again on Sunday, Sept. 19, dropping from 1,070 Saturday to 1,053, according to state figures.

The number of those patients in intensive care also fell, from 324 to 310.

Local health officials reported five additional deaths and 1,322 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the county’s cumulative totals to 1,444,127 cases and 25,832 fatalities since the pandemic began. The number of cases and deaths reported Sunday likely reflect reporting delays over the weekend, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Testing results were available for more than 8,450,000 individuals with 16% of people testing positive. Saturday’s test positivity rate was 1.3%.

What are the challenges your practices continue to face amid the Delta variant?

Pfizer said today its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon — a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But with kids now back in school and the extra-contagious Delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.

Help for Small Practices

Eligible small businesses and nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — including physician practices — can now apply for the final round of California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. The program is administered by California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA).

The final application period closes on September 30, 2021. Applications will be evaluated based upon criteria that look at local impacts of COVID, gross revenue losses, industry and underserved small business groups.

Qualified applications submitted during previous rounds will roll over to the final round of funding for consideration. New applicants can apply at CAReliefGrant.com.

A small business is defined as having between $1,000 and $2.5 million in yearly gross revenue. Non-profits are also eligible for these grants. The amount of grant funding ranges from $5,000 to $25,000. Businesses are eligible based on annual revenue as documented in their most recent tax return. For more information or to submit your application, visit careliefgrant.com.

You're Invited to a Virtual Focus Group

Your experience as a physician matters to AAIMM!

Please join AAIMM for a virtual focus group on September 29, 2021, from 6:00-7:30 pm.

The LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Initiative (AAIMM) is working on a project to help encourage conversations between individuals and their health care providers about their thoughts, desires, and plans about getting pregnant -- and we want to hear from you!

Please join us to connect with other primary care providers and share your thoughts and experiences that will inform the development of a public awareness campaign that will launch later this year.

All participants will receive a $75 flexible gift card (i.e. VISA GIFT CARD).

Space is limited for this virtual discussion that will be held on zoom, to make sure everyone’s voices are heard. The zoom link to join us will be sent after you register.

Register Today!

2 Days Away From Our LACMA's 150th Virtual Installation

We look forward to virtually celebrating our 150th Installation of President and Officers. For everyone's safety, we will stream the event live on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021, via zoom at 7:15 pm PST.

Our cocktail hour promptly starts at 7:00 pm PST.

Join us for the livestream here.

Click here to donate to Medical Student Scholarships.

Major Issue Townhalls and Other Updates

HOD Update

To expand opportunities for member engagement, we will be holding virtual Major Issue townhalls with members of the Councils present for delegation members to offer testimony on the recommendations.

Our townhall will be held on Thursday, September 30 (6-8 p.m.). The time block will be divided up with one hour per Major Issue.

  • 6-7 p.m.: Racism and Other Barriers to Health Equity
  • 7-8 p.m.: Corporatization of Health Care

Members can join and leave the meeting at any point. If you cannot join the virtual townhall, please use the discussion forums. Please note that draft Major Issue reports will be available on September 23.

Please register here.

After registering for the townhall event, you will receive two email confirmations: One from CMA Member Services confirming your registration was completed and one Zoom confirmation email from Navdeep Dhaliwal. Please save this second email as it will contain the Zoom meeting information needed to log in.

ENGAGEMENT TIMELINE:

This year's HOD engagement opportunities are tentatively scheduled as follows:

  • Thursday, September 23, 2021
  • House reports posted and open for testimony
  • First draft of the major issues reports posted and open for testimony
  • Thursday, September 30, 2021
  • Major issue townhalls (register here)
  • Wednesday, October 13, 2021
  • Revised reports posted online
  • Saturday, October 16, 2021

Deadline for House report extractions: CMA will provide an extraction form or online portal (Items not extracted will comprise the Consent Calendar, which the house will be able to adopt)

  • Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Deadline for major issue recommendation extractions: CMA will provide an extraction form or online portal (Items not extracted will comprise the Consent Calendar, which the house will be able to adopt)

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

This year's HOD sessions are tentatively scheduled as follows:

  • Wednesday, October 20, 2021
  • New delegate orientation webinar (6-7 p.m.)
  • Friday, October 22, 2021
  • Board of Trustees meeting (9 a.m. - 2 p.m.)
  • HOD virtual platform testing period (6-8 p.m.)
  • CMA recommends that delegations schedule caucus meetings (if needed) on Friday or otherwise prior to Saturday to ensure that members are prepared for the virtual session.
  • Saturday, October 23, 2021
  • House of Delegates session (Tentative: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)
  • Board of Trustees organizational meeting (upon adjournment of the House)

MAJOR ISSUES AND ACTIONABLE REPORTS

The first draft of the Major Issues and other actionable reports will be posted 30 days prior to the House of Delegates, on September 23, and will be open for testimony through October 8.

IN MEMORIAM

As House of Delegates approaches, we are left to reflect on those members who are longer with us. If you would like to honor a CMA/LACMA member who passed away in the last year, please submit an “in memoriam” resolution to Jessica Arthur (jarthur@cmadocs.org) by September 17. We are happy to provide a sample template if you need assistance. Please also submit a high-res photo that can be shown as a part of the presentation.

Click here to learn more about the House of Delegates.

Membership Appreciation

We will be celebrating LACMA’s 150th Anniversary with our members at the Huntington Library in the Rose Hills Garden Court on Saturday, November 6, 2021, from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm. We would love for you to join us!

Click here to RSVP or email Lisa La at Lisa@lacmanet.org.

Webinar: Telehealth and COVID-19 Vaccine Administration: What Physician Practices Need to Know to Avoid Billing Challenges

Two of the most pressing issues facing medical practices at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic are telehealth and COVID-19 vaccine administration. This webinar will help ensure that your practice can avoid billing challenges with both of these crucial services.

Speakers will provide a brief overview of the current federal and state telehealth flexibilities in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also will discuss regulator guidance on telehealth billing, how long the flexibilities will last, and federal and state advocacy efforts to extend telehealth parity, including audio-only services.

Additionally, this webinar will include an overview of what physician practices need to know regarding COVID-19 vaccine administration billing and reimbursement. In addition to new CPT codes, there are important billing nuances specific to COVID-19 vaccine administration that can impact reimbursement.

Date: September 23, 2021

Time: 12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Register Here

Webinar: Discussion on the COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate and Workplace Issues

Discussion on California’s COIVD-19 Vaccine Mandate and Workplace Issues

In this webinar, a follow-up to the Return to Work Issues for CA Physician Employers webinar, presenters will provide information on COVID-19 compliance obligations for California physician employers, COVID-19 testing/vaccination issues, and best practices in response to the recent vaccination orders for health care workers issued by the California Department of Public Health. This one-hour webinar will be structured as a question and answer discussion between Joey Cachuela, California Medical Association legal counsel, and the principal of Rivas Law, APC, Oscar Rivas.

Date: September 30, 2021

Time: 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm

Register Here

#MondayMotivation

"The purpose of life is not to be happy, but to matter – to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all."

Gustavo Friederichsen

Chief Executive Officer

Los Angeles County Medical Association

“If it matters to our LACMA members, it matters to me.”

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