Marin Medical Society

MMS News Briefs


February 2014

MICRA talking points to use with your patients

Richard Thorp, MD
[Dr. Thorp, a Paradise internist, is president of the California Medical Association. The following article is adapted from a letter he recently sent to California physicians.]

By now, you and your fellow California physicians likely understand the full measure of what’s at stake in the fight to protect the state’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). We now know that the trial attorneys’ proposed ballot language has received approval from the Secretary of State’s Office, and that MICRA opponents have begun collecting signatures in an attempt to place that language on the November 2014 ballot. We also know that these well-funded opponents have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign to undo MICRA.

In other words, the threat against MICRA is more serious now than it has ever been.

There’s no doubt that you and your colleagues understand the potentially catastrophic results that would come from MICRA’S cap being lifted to roughly fourfold; yet unfortunately physicians’ understanding of the issue will not be enough to stop this initiative.

To win this fight, voters--our patients, those we interact with every day in our practices--must understand that protecting MICRA goes hand-in-hand with protecting access to quality health care in California.

To that end, a set of talking points appears below, to ensure that any conversation regarding MICRA, no matter how brief, will ultimately be of value to both the physician and the patient.

Introduce the talking points with, “Right now, there’s a good deal of misinformation being used to support an initiative that will potentially close doctors’ office and make health care more expensive for all Californians. California trial lawyers are pushing an initiative that would allow lawyers to collect more money from medical malpractice suits, but they’re running it alongside a host of other provisions that makes it look like the initiative’s focus is patient safety. The physician community is always looking for ways to improve patient safety and reduce the number of medical errors--but that isn’t what this ballot measure is about. This measure is about making more money for trial lawyers.”

  • This measure will raise costs for millions of health consumers and taxpayers. More lawsuits mean higher health care costs for patients and providers--everyone will pay more.
  •  This measure is about making more money for trial lawyers. This measure is being funded by trial lawyers and their allies so they can make more money suing health care professionals--period.
  • This measure will reduce access to health care services. This measure will lead to reduced access to our health care professionals--and fewer options for affordable, quality health care--especially in rural and underserved communities.
  • Californians do not want to weaken MICRA. The public supports MICRA. According to a recent poll conducted by Patients Allied for Patient Protection, nearly two-thirds of voters support the law.

Again, I cannot stress enough how important the next few months will be to the future of our profession. We will win this fight, but we cannot do so alone. Thank you in advance for standing with me in defense of MICRA.

[For the latest MICRA news, visit]

CMA develops simple tool to ID physician participation status in exchange plans

On Jan. 1, Covered California began providing health coverage to more than 500,000 patients statewide. With that figure expected to grow by the end of the 2014 open enrollment period, it is critical that physicians and their staff have a clear understanding of their exchange plan participation status so they can communicate this information to patients before scheduling. It’s equally as important that practices understand the reimbursement rates and other terms associated with the plans with which they are contracted.

Even if you did not intentionally contract with any exchange plans, the California Medical Association (CMA) urges you to check your participation status. It’s very possible that you may have been unknowingly opted into an exchange plan network due to the way that major insurance plans have structured their provider agreements.

If you've attempted to look up your exchange plan participation status on the Covered California website, you know that it's not a straightforward process. Because it is critical that physicians know what plans they are contracted with, CMA has created a quick and easy tool to look up your exchange plan participation status in just a few clicks.

The tool, available to members only, requires simply your first and last name and middle initial. Then it will tell you which plans list you as a contracting physician (as of September 2013, the most recent data released by Covered California). To access the tool, visit

Please note: You will be required to login with a member account. If you have not already activated your web account, visit If you need assistance activating your account, contact CMA's member service center at (800) 786-4262 or

For more information on Covered California, visit CMA’s exchange resource center at Physician members and their staff also have free access to CMA’s practice management experts at 888-401-5911 or

Patients need to register in diabetes prevention program by Feb. 18

Physicians are urged to refer prediabetic patients to a year-long diabetes prevention program held at the Marin YMCA in San Rafael. The current session has already begun, but registration is open until Feb. 18. To register, patients should contact Lauren Clapperton at 415-446-2114 or  For more information, see the attached flyer.

Diabetes Prevention Program 2014 flyer

The program helps those at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight. Program participants work together in a small group led by a trained lifestyle coach over a 12-month period, beginning with 16 weekly sessions and continuing with monthly maintenance. Research has shown that prevention programs can reduce the number of cases of type 2 diabetes by 58%. The reduction is even greater, 71%, for people 60 or older.

To qualify for the program, participants must be at least 18 years old, overweight (BMI ≥ 25), and at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Patients who have already been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes do not qualify for the program. The cost is $429 per year, but financial assistance is available. Health insurers may also pay for the program, depending on the patient’s coverage.

Assemblyman Marc Levine meet-and-greet on March 27

Physicians in the 10th Assembly District, which includes all of Marin County, are invited to a meet-and-greet with Assemblyman Marc Levine from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, at a location to be determined. Levine, a former San Rafael City Council member and technology consultant, has served in the Assembly since 2012 and is running for a second term in the 2014 elections.

There is no charge for the event, but RSVPs are required. To RSVP, contact Rachel Pandolfi at 415-924-3891 or

Hillary Clinton headlines 2014 Health Care Leadership Academy

Former Secretary of State and potential presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the keynote speaker at the annual Western Health Care Leadership Academy in San Diego on April 11-13. Top thinkers from around the country will share strategies and resources for accelerating the shift to a more integrated, high performing, and sustainable health care system.

The conference will examine the most significant challenges facing health care today and present proven models and innovative approaches to transform your organization’s care delivery and business practices. Topics will include leadership development, ACA implementation, practice management and the ICD-10 transition.

To register, contact Rachel Pandolfi at 415-924-3891 or

Legislative Leadership Conference set for April 22 in Sacramento

All SCMA members are invited to CMA’s 40th annual Legislative Leadership Conference on Tuesday, April 22, at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento. This free event begins with morning speeches by political leaders, followed by afternoon sessions with local legislators. Several hundred physicians from around the state are expected to attend.

For more information, visit  or contact Cynthia Melody at 707-525-4375

Top stories from CMA Alert

Here are the top stories from the latest CMA Alert, the California Medical Association’s biweekly email newsletter. For a free subscription, visit

  • Senate pro tem considering MICRA legislation
  • Federal budget spares most health programs
  • Budget instructs CMS to reform RAC audits that have been troubling physicians
  • HHS to release Medicare physician payment data
  • CMS to conduct ICD-10 testing in March


The third annual Childhood Obesity Conference will be held at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 22. The featured speaker is acclaimed pediatrician Dr. Robert Lustig, who will discuss his research on sugar consumption as the underlying cause of obesity. Five other speakers are scheduled as well, along with breakout sessions, breakfast and lunch, and a networking reception. Cost is $80. To register, visit

The 21st annual HIV/AIDS Review is set for Saturday, April 5, at the Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa. Intended for physicians, mid-levels and pharmacists who provide care to people with HIV/AIDS, the review features sessions on advances in HIV testing, hepatitis C treatment and new HIV medications. Cost is $45, which includes breakfast, lunch and 5 hours of CME. For the conference flyer, click here. To register, click here or call 707-303- 8904.

Nonprofit health organizations in Marin County are encouraged to apply for community grants from the Pacific Foundation for Medical Care. The application deadline is April 2. 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. For application materials, visit or contact Kathy Pass at 707-525-4281 or

The following CMA webinars are scheduled for February. Webinars, which are typically worth one CEU credit, begin at 12:15 p.m. and run until 1:15 or later. To register, visit Seminars are free for CMA members and their staff; cost for nonmembers is $99 per person.

  •  Managing Medicare in 2014: New Rules and Tools (Feb. 5)
  • Retiring, Selling or Buying a Practice (Feb. 19)
  • Personal Belief Exemptions to Required Immunizations (Feb. 24)
  • Fraud and Abuse: Dangers and Defenses (Feb. 26)


Gloria Tucker, MD, Sports Medicine*, Internal Medicine*, 7595 Redwood Blvd. #108, Novato 94945, Univ Southern California 1987


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.

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