Marin Medical Society

MMS News Briefs


January 2011

Potluck dinner for women physicians on Feb. 17

All women physicians in Marin County—MMS members and nonmembers alike—are invited to an informal potluck dinner on Thursday evening, Feb. 17. The dinner, hosted by Dr. Lori Selleck, is a great opportunity to gather with your female colleagues in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. To RSVP and receive the address, contact Ashleigh Jessica Strasheim at 415-924-3891 or

New law: Older students must get pertussis vaccine

Under a new law (AB 354), California middle and high school students must be vaccinated against pertussis. Beginning July 1, all students entering 7th through 12th grades in both public and private schools will be required to show proof of receiving a Tdap booster vaccination before starting school.


Many families are unaware of this new law and will need to be encouraged by their clinicians to get their children vaccinated ahead of the July 1 deadline. No vaccine shortage is anticipated, but physicians and parents are urged to vaccinate ASAP to avoid a potential backlog of children needing immunizations.


 “With more than 7,800 confirmed cases and the deaths of 10 infants [in 2010], California experienced its worst outbreak of Pertussis in more than 50 years," said California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Mark Horton. "Protecting the health of California’s youth is one of our most urgent priorities. This new legislation will help us achieve our goal.”


For more information, visit

CMA joins lawsuit against plan to let optometrists treat glaucoma

The California Medical Association and the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons have filed a lawsuit to block implementation of new regulations that certify optometrists to treat glaucoma.


The regulations, which went into effect Jan. 8, provide a pathway by which optometrists can complete the entire certification process without having to treat a single patient with glaucoma. The prior process required treating 50 glaucoma patients over two years under the supervision of a board certified ophthalmologist.


“Let’s be clear: These new regulations are not up to snuff and in fact jeopardize the quality of eye care Californians deserve,” said CMA President Dr. James Hinsdale. “Failing to require certification that includes treating actual glaucoma patients is the equivalent of handing out driver’s licenses to people who have read a driving manual and attended a class but have never driven a car.”

Office of Administrative Law rejects regulations for discount health plans

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has rejected regulations that would have legitimized “discount health plan” referral services. CMA vigorously fought these regulations, and has opposed a number of legislative attempts to legitimize these illegal referral services.


The Department of Managed Health Care proposed the regulations in February 2010, but OAL sided with CMA, ruling that the regulations are inconsistent with an opinion issued by the California Attorney General that concluded discount health plans are illegal.


Discount health plans charge patients a monthly membership fee in exchange for a list of physicians whose services they can supposedly access at a discounted rate. The promised discounts are often illusory, and the physicians are often listed without their consent or knowledge.

Gov. Brown's proposed budget would cut health and human services

Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2011-12 budget proposal includes major cuts to health care, in an attempt to close a projected $25.4 billion shortfall. The proposal would close the deficit through a mix of spending cuts, revenue increases, and other solutions (such as taking money from special funds). The spending cuts total $12.5 billion, with $1.7 billion slashed from Medi-Cal alone.


Of particular interest to physicians are proposals to:


• Cut Medi-cal provider rates by 10% ($720 million)


• Control Medi-Cal utilization ($217 million)


• Impose Medi-Cal copayments ($557 million)


• Contain costs in the Healthy Families program ($39 million)


Medi-Cal currently covers 7.7 million Californians and is expected to add up to 2 million more after full implementation of federal health reform.


Even at current rates, most physicians lose money treating Medi-Cal patients. As a result, it is nearly impossible to find physicians accepting new Medi-Cal patients in certain specialties. When Medi-Cal patients can’t find a doctor, many will end up in the emergency room, the most costly and least efficient venue for receiving treatment.


“With California's Medi-Cal rates already among the lowest in the nation, California's health care safety net cannot sustain these drastic cuts,” said CMA President Dr. James Hinsdale. “CMA will continue to fight for physicians and work to preserve access to care for California's low-income populations.”


MMS President Dr. Peter Bretan, a Novato urologist in private practice, has been appointed to the CMA Council on Ethical Affairs. The Council investigates and supervises the ethical deportment of CMA members, makes recommendations for improvement of professional conduct, and interprets the meaning and application of the Principles of Medical Ethics.


Dr. Katy Davis and Dr. Inessa Gofman, both pediatricians, have joined Sutter’s Pediatric Care Center in San Rafael. Davis has an MD from Duke University and an MPH from UC Berkeley. Gofman has an MD from UC Davis.


Dr. Gregg Jossart, a laparoscopic surgeon, has joined the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation and opened an office at 101 Rowland Way in Novato. He specializes in gastrointestinal, bariatric and endocrine surgery. He holds an MD from the University of Minnesota.


The $120 million dispute between Marin General Hospital and Sutter Health has been sent to arbitration. Judge Verna Adams of the Marin Superior Court found that the arbitration provision in a 2006 agreement between MGH and Sutter “is sufficiently broad so as to encompass plaintiff’s tort claims.” MGH filed suit last year, claiming that Sutter had siphoned $120 million in revenue from MGH to other Sutter hospitals.


Marin General Hospital has opened a Spine & Brain Institute for treatment and management of spine and brain disorders and disease. Partners in the Institute include Mt. Tam Spine Center and UCSF Neurosurgery. MGH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joel Sklar noted, “This collaborative orthopedic and neurosurgery program gives Marin residents access to all the resources need to manage a complete list of spine and brain diseases and injuries.”


A presentation on the XMRV retrovirus and its relationship to cancer  7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, conference room B. The event is free but is only open to licensed medical professionals. RSVPs are required and should be directed to Susan Friedl at 396-5835 or The presenter is Judy Mikovits, PhD, a cell biologist. will begin at


A free one-hour webinar on embezzlement will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 12:15 p.m. and 6 p.m. This CMA webinar is for physicians only; no staff members will be approved for participation. Presenter Debra Phairas, president of Practice & Liability Consultants, will discuss measures doctors can take to prevent embezzlement, which is estimated to affect one in six physicians at some point in their careers. To register, visit


Nonprofit health organizations in Marin County are encouraged to apply for Community Grants from the Pacific Foundation for Medical Care. The grants, generally in the $10,000 range, are awarded twice a year by the nonprofit foundation to support local projects that enhance health services. The application deadline for the next round of grants is April 2. For application materials, contact Kathy Pass at 707-525-4281 or For more information, visit


A four-day course on difficult headache patients will be held in Rancho Mirage on President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 18-21. The course is sponsored by the Diamond Headache Clinic and includes 20.5 hours of Category 1 credit. To register, visit


A one-day seminar on pediatric orthopedics will take place at the Shriners Hospital in Sacramento on Saturday, March 5. The course, valid for 5 hours of Category 1 credit, includes presentations by several noted orthopedic surgeons. To register, contact 916-453-2041 or


The latest issue of CMA Practice Resources includes articles on EOB disclosures, timely access regulations and Blue Cross contract amendments. For a free subscription, visit


The OMSS Advocate is a quarterly newsletter for members of the CMA Organized Medical Staff Section. To read the current issue, visit


Jeffrey Stevenson, MD, Family Medicine, Occupational Medicine, 300 Professional Center Dr. #326, Novato 94947, 897-5400, Fax 892-9506,, George Washington Univ


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The Marin Medical Society, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association, supports local physicians and their efforts to enhance the health of the community. We are affiliated with the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association.


© MMS 2011
PO Box 246
Corte Madera, CA 94976