The California Society of Anesthesiology is a trusted source of policy information to legislators and staff within the California State Legislature concerning the practice of physician-led anesthesiology.
Several key issues emerge each legislative session that impact how CSA members care of their patients, scope of practice, and operations of their business models.
CSA’s objectives in the State Legislature are informed by the Legislative and Practice Affairs Division, chaired by Dr. Antonio Conte, and approved by the CSA Board of Directors.
CSA advocates work collaboratively with the California Medical Association and other members of “The House of Medicine” in Sacramento to advocate on behalf of the shared interests of patients and physicians.
Below are several issues of importance during the 2020-21 legislative session. If you have additional questions, please contact CSA’s lobbyist, Bryce Docherty of KP Public Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AB 2157 Passed Unanimously by California Senate
CSA Sponsored Legislation Heads to the Governor for Signature
The California Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) is pleased to announce that AB 2157 (Wood) was passed unanimously by the California Senate on August 24, and now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom for his consideration. The Governor has until the end of September to sign or veto the bills passed by the state Legislature at the end of this 2019/2020 legislative session.
AB 2157, sponsored by CSA and authored by the Assembly Health Committee Chair Jim Wood, D.D.S. (D-Santa Rosa), passed out of both the Assembly and Senate with bipartisan and unanimous support. The legislation codifies recent sub-regulatory guidance issued by the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) and provides better balance between physicians and health plans and/or insurers over billing and payment disputes for out-of-network health care services provided in an in-network facility.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a growing number of cases where AB 72 was used to make unreasonable demands on anesthesiology groups and even threaten cancelled contracts,” said Antonio Hernandez Conte, MD, Chair of Legislative and Practice Affairs for CSA. “That was unsustainable, and would effectively diminish patient access to anesthesiology services. We are pleased that AB 2157 will create a more level playing field so the IDRP can work as intended – keeping patients out of the middle of these contract disputes while at the same time supporting a process that ensures fair negotiations and protects patient access to care.”
Specifically, AB 2157 provides the following requirements for the Independent Dispute Resolution Process that can be triggered by AB 72 (Bonta) from 2016:
- Ensures that information submitted through the IDRP must be kept confidential from either disputing party.
- That the independent arbiter conducts a “de novo” review of the claim dispute based solely on the information and documents timely submitted into evidence by the parties.
- That the independent arbiter assigns reviewers to each case based on their relevant education, background, and medical claims payment and clinical experience.
“AB 2157 is a smart and tailored approach to ensuring physicians are not artificially disadvantaged when going through the adjudication process. We are glad the Legislature understood the importance of this legislation and made it a priority in the midst of so many other legislative challenges for the state” added Dr. Hernandez Conte.
As author of the bill and Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Assemblymember Wood provided critical stewardship of AB 2157 as it moved through the legislative process. His first-hand experience as a health care practitioner provided understanding on how the interactions between providers and insurance companies directly impact patient access and quality of care.
“We appreciated the opportunity to work with Assemblymember Wood and find a way to address this important issue – the contract negotiations between health plans and providers are complicated but have real world implications for our patients and the efficacy of our healthcare systems,” said Jeff Poage, MD, President of CSA.
CSA district directors and members throughout the state engaged in effective grassroots outreach and advocacy calls with key members of the Legislature to educate them about the importance of AB 2157. In particular, CSA District Directors Lawrence Ong, MD, Jeffrey Rusheen, MD, Robin Seaberg, MD, Sydney Thomson, MD, Christian Borhringer, MBBS, and Henry Gonzalez, MD were instrumental in leading virtual meetings and phone calls with key legislators – educating them about the importance of the bill and why it matters to their district and to the future of healthcare in California. Additionally, CSA greatly appreciates the involvement of so many more members who wrote letters or who joined legislative outreach phone calls as local constituents to provide additional grassroots support – including Folu Ani, MD, Robert Wong, MD, Puja Trivedi, MD, Jim Hlavacek, MD, Ellen Wang, MD, Larry Sullivan, MD, Michael Champeau, MD, Chien Chow, MD, as well as Ron Pearl, MD, President-Elect for CSA, Sunny Jha, MD, Director of the CSA Early Career Practice Forum and Felipe Perez, MD, Vice Chair for the CSA Legislative Affairs Committee.
“It was great to see CSA’s grassroots advocacy program in action and working effectively,” said Sydney Thomson, MD, Director for CSA District 3. “We were able to share our own experiences and inform policymakers how the legislation impacts our specialty, our practices and patient access to care. Building these channels for communication is so important not just for this piece of legislation, but for the overall CSA mission to positively impact public policy - promoting patient safety, preserving physician-led anesthesia care, and increasing access to quality care in California.”
TAKE ACTION: Oppose Nurse Anesthetists Replacing Anesthesiologists in VA
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has acted unilaterally to replace physician anesthesiologists with nurse anesthetists in VA facilities citing COVID-19.
Please contact your lawmakers immediately to share your concerns and oppose this change.
CSA Promotes Safe Dental Anesthesia
In response to two highly publicized tragedies in which two young children died in California dental offices while undergoing anesthesia, the CSA has actively supported AB 2235, known as “Caleb’s Law”, authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond). This new legislation seeks improved informed consent for parents of children scheduled to undergo dental procedures under anesthesia, along with improved data collection concerning critical incidents and adverse events.
Additionally, CSA leaders have actively engaged in stakeholder meetings at the Department of Consumer Affairs, and offered testimony on this important patient safety issue to the Dental Board of California (DBC). On August 17, 2016, CSA submitted a letter (attached) outlining specific and stringent recommendations to the DBC on how to improve the permit process for provision of pediatric dental sedation and anesthesia, and how to improve safety in the delivery of anesthesia for pediatric dental and oral surgery care. The California component of the American Academy of Pediatrics (CA-AAP) submitted its own letter (attached) on this issue, in which it urged that the DBC “integrate into your subcommittee report, in full, the recommendations of the California Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) in their August 17, 2016 letter of comment.” The DBC report and recommendations are expected to be available later this year.
AB 72 (Bonta) re: Out of Network Billing
CSA leaders and our lobbyists in Sacramento have been extremely active in advancing the principle of physician-led anesthesia care in the California Legislature. AB 72, aimed at protecting patients from “surprise bills” is headed to the Governor’s desk. The California Medical Association, informed by discussions with CSA and other hospital-based specialties, negotiated with health plans, labor and consumer groups to provide a more level playing field when a patient receives treatment at an in-network facility from an out-of-network provider.
Although CSA believes that AB 72 falls short of creating a real solution to the real problem of “surprise bills,” this legislation is a fairer way of addressing the problem that what CSA faced last year with AB 533. CSA will be deeply engaged in the administrative rule-making process in the next several months and years to ensure the proper definition of “average contracted rate” is adopted and implemented correctly.