Marin Medical Society

MMS News Briefs


October 2010

Get your tickets now for Oct. 28 MMS Fall Membership Dinner

Now is the perfect time to order your tickets for the Oct. 28 MMS Fall Membership Dinner, which features a speech by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona on disaster preparedness. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear one of the nation’s most honored physicians address this important topic. Carmona, a UCSF graduate, trauma surgeon and public health expert, is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona with appointments in public health, surgery and pharmacy practice. He will speak about the role of state and local medical societies in disaster preparedness from his experience as Surgeon General.

The event, to be held at the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere, begins with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7. Dinner choices include pork loin, sea bass or a vegetarian entree. Tickets are $45 per person. To RSVP and identify your dinner choice, contact Jessica Strasheim at or 415-924-3891.

Marin surgeon Dr. James Hinsdale elected president of CMA

Marin surgeon James Hinsdale, MD, director of trauma at Marin General Hospital, has been elected president of the California Medical Association, which represents 35,000 physicians across the state. He was inaugurated at the annual CMA House of Delegates on Oct. 3.

 “No one in this state can deny that CMA has, and always will, put the care and well-being of the residents of California first,” Hinsdale said in his acceptance speech. “Who can forget CMA’s leadership in health reform? All of it was devoted to guaranteeing access to care for patients and stopping insurance abuses such as dropping coverage for patients who get sick.”

Hinsdale praised CMA’s efforts to protect the integrity of the medical profession, including preserving California’s landmark tort reform law, MICRA, passed 35 years ago. He also reiterated support for the longstanding ban on the corporate practice of medicine that prevents hospitals from directly hiring physicians to ensure doctors’ treatment decisions are not influenced by financial interests.

“I can say the one thing that binds doctors together is this: We would just like everyone to stay out of our way and let us practice medicine,” Hinsdale observed. “It isn’t about money. It’s about being a professional and having the autonomy needed to heal our patients.”

In addition to directing trauma at Marin General, Hinsdale is executive director of trauma at Regional Medical Center in San Jose. He is the founder and president of Northern California Trauma Medical Group, which includes 18 trauma surgeons. He is also assistant clinical professor of surgery at Stanford University and medical director of California Shock/Trauma Air Rescue.

Partnership HealthPlan for Medi-Cal patients eyes Marin expansion

Partnership HealthPlan, which covers Medi-Cal patients in several Northern California counties, may be expanding into Marin next year. About 15,000 Medi-Cal patients throughout the county would be eligible for Partnership’s managed care plan, which links Medi-Cal patients to primary care providers. The plan—currently implemented in Sonoma, Napa, Solano and Yolo counties—has proved effective in reducing emergency room usage and improving access to care. It also offers increased reimbursements to both primary care and specialist physicians.

Partnership is establishing a community planning group in Marin that will meet to identify specific issues related to offering managed Medi-Cal services in the county. The group will include representatives from community clinics, hospitals, medical groups and other stakeholders. Individual physicians are welcome to attend the group’s meetings, which will be held monthly on Friday mornings.

The first meeting is planned for 9 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, at a location to be determined. Physicians interested in attending should contact Lynn Scuri, MPH, at 707-863-4146 or

MMS members invited to Aerosol Transmissible Disease webinar on Oct. 6

MMS members are invited to the FREE webinar “Take a deep breath and cough: Compliance with the Aerosol Transmissible Disease standard.” The webinar, scheduled for 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Oct. 6, will be led by Jeff Tanenbaum, one of the leading OSHA attorneys in the nation. His practice is entirely devoted to representing employers in occupational safety and health and other labor and employment matters.

Almost all physician employers in California must now comply with Cal/OSHA's novel and rigorous Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) standard. Doctors have been struggling with how best to comply with this standard, and the webinar has been designed to answer their questions. Topics to be addressed include:

·       What work is covered by the ATD standard?

·       What employers are covered?

·       Are there exemptions or limitations that apply to your practice?

·       How to comply with the ATD standard in a practical and effective manner?

MMS members and their staff can register at no cost by visiting If you are a nonmember and would like to join CMA so you can view the webinar, contact the CMA Help Center at 800-786-4262 or

CMA-sponsored bill banning rescissions signed into law

Legislation banning rescissions has been signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger. AB 2470, sponsored by CMA, means plans cannot act as judge and jury whenever they want to cancel a policy. The measure allows patients to appeal insurers’ decisions to retroactively cancel their coverage after they get seriously ill, a practice known as rescission, to the Department of Managed Health Care or Department of Insurance.

Until a state regulator rules on the appeal and determines whether the cancellation was legal, the patient would retain his or her health insurance. The legislation gives patients an important tool to hold insurers accountable to the ban on rescissions that was part of federal health care reform enacted earlier this year. Under the new law, insurers are only allowed to rescind coverage in cases in which they can prove the patient lied or committed fraud.

A 2009 congressional investigation concluded that three insurers used rescissions to systematically cancel more than 20,000 policies over five years, saving the companies $300 million in claims.

CMA: Leveraging our strength in numbers

By Past CMA President J. Brennan Cassidy, MD

The challenges facing California physicians today have never been greater. Doctors face a veritable obstacle course of legislative, regulatory, legal, financial, and technological hurdles in their practices and more will come as a result of passage of the health reform law. At the California Medical Association, our mission is to provide our members with an impressive range of benefits and solutions to help doctors meet these challenges, so they can focus their efforts on caring for patients.

We realize that most of you belong to CMA for our legislative advocacy. Representing 35,000 physicians allows us to leverage our strength in numbers to exert a great deal of influence with government agencies and elected officials. Our lobbying efforts are effective in fighting off onerous regulations and in crafting physician-friendly language in major bills, at both the state and national levels. We’ve also waged a continuous battle on behalf of our members, to maximize reimbursements in programs like Medi-Cal and Medicare. As we all witnessed during the health care reform debates, medicine is coming under ever-growing legislative scrutiny, which makes the representation of our members, and our profession, absolutely imperative.

Perhaps a lesser known benefit is the legal support we provide to CMA members. We commonly file amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” briefs in health care-related suits and hearings, which often play a crucial role in the final outcomes. On a less frequent basis we file lawsuits against parties such as insurance companies, or even the state of California, in order to protect the best interests of our physicians. Besides active legal representation, we also provide all of our members with access to an extensive online library of medical-legal documents that discuss court cases, laws and regulations as they apply to the practice of medicine in California. And our health law information specialists provide individual assistance to members with human resource, medical, regulatory or legal questions. This assistance is free of charge to all members.

Many members find our financial and economic services an invaluable benefit of membership. Our dedicated Economic Services team act on members’ behalf in three key areas: (1) working with public and private payors to eliminate inequitable provisions from contracts; (2) providing members with tools to evaluate and negotiate payor contracts; and (3) assisting physicians with payment disputes with private and public payors.

Members are also eligible to receive a wide range of group discounts on products and programs used across most practices, including: insurance, practice financing, payment systems and office supplies. But the benefits don’t stop with just financial or general administrative services. CMA recognizes the challenges doctors face in managing practices, especially in solo or small group settings. To help, we’ve published a Best Practices manual, which provides information and tools to help improve the efficiency and quality of practices. We’ve also created the Red Flags Rule Toolkit, along with a series of webinars, to help physicians understand and comply with the latest identity theft regulations enforced by the FTC. CMA is also developing educational materials and guiding principles for our members interested in forming Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

As health care is going through an unprecedented revolution in electronic data, and as the costs and liabilities are too great for physicians to approach information technology decisions without weighing all of their options very carefully, CMA has been proactive in providing programs that cover health information technology solutions. From practice management systems, to clinical reference software for handheld devices, CMA is exploring solutions to assist members in choosing an effective electronic health record (EHR) system that will meet the government’s meaningful use requirements.

Running a successful medical practice grows more challenging every year. It is more important than ever to have a partner in your corner that can provide you with all of the necessary tools to protect your practice and allow you to focus on what’s really important: your patients.

As your organization, CMA’s goal is to help you take charge of your own destiny. We want to ensure that medical decisions remain in your hands, so that you can serve your patients. We welcome your input and look forward to working with you.


MMS President Dr. Peter Bretan, a Novato urologist, has received a Commendation from the City of Novato for his work with LifePlant International and his efforts to improve disaster preparedness in Marin County. Bretan was also elected chair of the CMA Presidents’ Forum at the recent CMA House of Delegates, and was re-elected as the District 10 AMA alternate delegate for the next three years.

Dr. Molly Roberts, a family physician with expertise in nutritional medicine and psychotherapy, has joined the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation. She will work at the new Institute for Health & Healing clinic in Greenbrae, which provides wellness and integrative medicine services to patients at Marin General Hospital and in the community.


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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 2010
PO Box 246
Corte Madera, CA 94976