Marin Medical Society

MMS News Briefs


September 2009

Dispute over MGH cash transfers continues to escalate

The dispute over $120 million in “equity cash transfers”from Marin General to other hospitals in the Sutter network has ratcheted up anotch, with legislators calling for an investigation by Attorney General JerryBrown and the hospital defending its actions in a lengthy missive.

On Aug. 26, Assemblymember Jared Huffman and a dozen otherstate legislators sent a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown asking him to“immediately investigate alleged misrepresentation of hospital finances,economic and medical redlining, abuse of nonprofit status, anti-trustviolations, questionable allocation of public assets, and execution ofcontracts that may be in conflict with existing law by Sutter Health and itsnetwork of Affiliates and subsidiaries.” The letter goes on to describedisputes between Sutter and local officials in several counties, includingMarin.

On Sept. 1, Robert Heller, chair of the MGH board, assertedin a six-page letter to Huffman that “the Equity Cash Transfer Policy enablesSutter Health to provide access to quality health care services in communitiesthat might otherwise not be served, such as Los Banos and Lake County.” He alsodeclared that the transfers were lawful and invited Huffman to visit thehospital and review its financial statements.

The matter now appears to rest with the Attorney General,who has issued no response to date.

MMS members invited to informal lunch with Assemblymember Huffman

All MMS and Sonoma County Medical Association members areinvited to an informal lunch with Assemblymember Jared Huffman on Wednesday,Sept. 16, in Groverman Hall at Petaluma Valley Hospital. The lunch, scheduledfor 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., will allow MMS and SCMA members to speak with Huffmanregarding health care financing, the recent state budget, and pending healthlegislation (see link to CMA’s Legislative Hot List below).

Petaluma Valley Hospital is located at 400 N. McDowell Petaluma, near the Washington Blvd. exit from Highway 101. To RSVP, contactJessica Whittom at 924-3891 or

CMA’s Legislative Hot List at a summary and current status of CMA-sponsored bills in the CaliforniaLegislature, as well as the progress of other significant legislation followedby CMA’s Center for Government Relations. For more information on a specificbill, contact the lobbyist identified at the end of each bill summary.

Physicians urged to order H1N1 vaccine

The California Department of Public Health is urgingphysicians to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus by ordering vaccine free ofcharge from a new website, vaccine, which is expected to become available in mid-October, willprobably need to be given in two doses, 3-4 weeks apart. Target populations forthe vaccine include:

·      Pregnant women

·      People who live with or provide care for infantsless than 6 months old

·      Health care and emergency services personnel

·      Children and young adults aged 6 months to 24years

·      People 25-64 who have medical conditions thatput them at higher risk for flu-related complications

The vaccine will onlybe available through the CalPanFlu.orgwebsite and local health departments; it will not be carried by privateorganizations. Physicians may bill public and private insurers for vaccineadministration fees.

CPMC Foundation to merge with North Bay group

The Physician Foundation at California Pacific MedicalCenter, which includes the Marin Headlands Medical Group, will merge withSutter Medical Foundation North Bay on Jan. 1. The combined foundation, withmore than 220 doctors, will be called Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation.Doctors in the foundation will provide services at Sutter facilities in Marin,Sonoma, Lake and San Francisco counties, with additional locations throughoutNorthern California.

Chris Rogers, the incoming executive director of SutterPacific, said, “We are focusing on building a robust primary care andspecialist network so that patients all along the 101 corridor have access tocomprehensive medical care.” The foundation’s CEO will be Morris Flaum, MD.

Need help with Medicare billing?

PalmettoGBA, the new Medicare administrator for NorthernCalifornia, has offered to conduct workshops this fall about new billingprocedures and other topics of interest to physicians. Possible subjectsinclude E&M services, preventive medicine services, RAC and CERT audits,and e-prescribing. A particular area of concern is downcoding or denials forE&M services.

The workshops will be coordinated by local medicalassociations. If you are interested in having PalmettoGBA conduct a workshop inyour area, contact Jessica Whittom at jessica@marinmedicalsociety.orgor 525-4375.

California Supreme Court upholds MICRA

The California Supreme Court has declined to review anappeals court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of California's landmarkMedical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). Under MICRA, patients can recoverup to a quarter of a million dollars in noneconomic or “pain and suffering”awards. Injured patients are also entitled to unlimited medical and economiccompensation, which often amounts to millions of dollars to cover true damages,such as lost wages, medical expenses, and long-term care costs.

CMA sponsored and won passage of MICRA in 1975 in responseto runaway medical liability costs and the resulting shortage of health careproviders, predominantly in high-risk specialties.

In the most recent case, lawyers argued that the MICRA capviolates constitutional provisions that prohibit the Legislature fromexercising judicial powers, as well as the equal protection clauses of thestate and federal constitutions. The court, however, ruled that the state has alegitimate interest in limiting medical malpractice insurance costs becausewithout MICRA insurance rates would pose “serious problems for the health caresystem in California.”


Parkinson’s seminar atBuck Institute on Sept. 10

A public seminar titled “Parkinson’s Disease: From Bench toBedside” will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Sept. 10 at the Buck Institutein Novato. Presenters include Julie Andersen, PhD, a professor at theinstitute, and Alison McCormack, PhD, an associate professor at the Parkinson’sInstitute. Cost is $10. To register, contact events-rsvp@buckinstitute.orgor 209-2030.


Web conference onasthma control set for Sept. 16

Breathe California is hosting a web conference, “Quick fixesfor poor asthma control,” from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Thepresenter is Barbara Langham, RN, a pediatric care manager for Kaiser in Napaand Fairfield. The conference qualifies for 1 hour of CME. To register, visit orcall 650-994-1903.


Carolyn Mar, MD
Internal Medicine*
1033 Third St.
San Rafael 94901
482-6815  Fax 482-6096
UC San Francisco 1995

* board certified


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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 thecommunity. We are affiliated with the California Medical Association and theAmerican Medical Association.

© MMS 2009
PO Box 246
Corte Madera, CA 94976


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