Gasline Newsletter July 2003

Volume 5, No. 1

STATE BUDGET UPDATE

The 2003-04 state budget gridlock continues, apparently complicated by the effort to recall Governor Davis. Even so, there are rumors in the Capitol that a solution could emerge suddenly over the next week or two. So far, Medi-Cal provider rate cuts have not been seriously advocated in either house by either the Democrat or Republican caucuses. Payments for medical services rendered on and after July 1, 2003, will continue until the special $2 billion fund for this purpose is exhausted, which could happen before September 1, if no budget is in place.

CSA COMMENTS ON WORKERS' COMP FEE SCHEDULE REGULATIONS

Comments on draft regulations that would convert the Workers' Compensation Official Medical Fee Schedule to the RBRVS model with Medicare rules were due by July 11. The CSA submitted a letter to Administrative Director Richard Gannon detailing why use of Medicare rules and any conversion factor tied to a percentage of Medicare would be disastrous to anesthesiologists and would likely lead to access problems for injured workers. Some legislative proposals have suggested a conversion factor of 120% of Medicare, which would bring reimbursement rates close to Medi-Cal levels. The CSA Comments can be viewed on the CSA web site at www.csahq.org.

Meanwhile, some 18 bills relating to workers' compensation reform are moving through the legislature. Rather than deal with them piecemeal, it is likely that the entire package is moving toward a two-house conference committee where the ultimate outcome will be decided.

CSA SUPPORTS CMA EFFORTS TO PROTECT MEDICAL STAFF AUTONOMY

At its meeting on July 12, the CSA Executive Committee approved a donation from the CSA Legal Defense Fund to the CMA to assist with the legal costs of fighting the administration of Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura. The administration is seeking to strip the medical staff of its autonomy by removing its right to self governance. The AMA is assisting in the defense of the medical staff, as it is recognized that this case could set a devastating precedent should the hospital administration be successful.

OPPORTUNITIES TO GET THE WORD OUT ON ANESTHESIA CARE

The National Conference of State Legislators is meeting in San Francisco July 23-25. Several volunteer CSA physician members will be present at the ASA booth to educate California and other state legislators on the need to retain the requirement for physician supervision of CRNAs in order to maintain current patient safety standards.

Two other volunteer opportunities to staff the ASA booth at national specialty society meetings are available later in the year. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons meeting is in San Diego and the exhibit hall will be open Oct. 26-28. The American Academy of Ophthalmology will meet in Anaheim with the exhibits open Nov. 15-18. The ASA pays a stipend of $175 a day to offset travel and incidental expenses.

Volunteers for half and full days are needed. Please respond to Barbara Baldwin at bbaldwin@csahq.org if you can contribute some time.

ASA MEETING IN SAN FRANCISCO OCTOBER 11-15

The ASA is holding its annual meeting in San Francisco this year. In addition to the review course, many workshops, including a new hands-on cadaver program on pain management will be offered. Remember, registration for the ASA annual meeting is free, but only if your membership dues are up-to-date for both the CSA and the ASA. If you have not paid your CSA dues yet, you will receive another invoice in the next few weeks. Dues must be paid by late August to avoid being dropped. The CSA now has on-line dues payment to make it easy to renew your membership. Go to www.csahq.org and follow the instructions on the home page.

CSA TO SURVEY REIMBURSEMENT RATES AND STIPEND ARRANGEMENTS

In a few weeks, the CSA will send two surveys. One will gather vital information for advocating for fair reimbursement for workers compensation (and other fee schedules) and to document the reasonableness of anesthesia rates charged in specific geographic areas; it will be sent to a selected sample of groups and members. The other survey seeks information on stipend arrangements and will be sent to the chiefs of anesthesia departments. In order to comply with FTC requirements and to maintain confidentiality, the CSA has engaged the consulting firm of Cattaneo & Stroud to receive and aggregate the data which will show results without identification of specific physicians or groups. If you are interested in participating, please contact bbaldwin@csahq.org.

PLEASE SEND YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS

In a few months, a new federal law will go into effect that will prohibit membership associations from sending unsolicited faxes to members unless permission is received in advance. Some CSA members currently receive the Gasline by fax and from time to time urgent information or appeals are sent via fax. Please provide your e-mail address to the CSA so when the prohibition against unsolicited faxing takes effect, you can receive information in the timeliest manner. Simply send an e-mail to CSA@csahq.org and note your name in the subject line. Members who wish to continue receiving information by fax must send the CSA a signed note stating that the CSA has permission to send unsolicited faxes. The note can be faxed to the CSA at 650-345-3269.

NEW CSA WEB SITE IS COMING

The CSA website is being redesigned to make it more user friendly and attractive. The new site will have more information arranged in a more accessible format, a members only section, patient information section, frequently asked questions, and the ability for members to nominate and vote for district directors, delegates and alternate delegates to the CSA. Members can log on to the CSA web site at www.csahq.org and answer a brief survey to indicate what they like and don't like about the current site, and what they would like to see in the new web site.

The new web site is scheduled to be launched in early September.

H. Douglas Roberts, M.D. 
President