The CSA kicked off the New Year in Sacramento, with the weekend of January 8-9 devoted to celebrating CSA’s new presence in the State Capital, strengthening our relationships with state legislators and allied advocates, and charting a strategy to guide CSA’s program of work.
In a brief business meeting on Saturday, the Board of Directors affirmed the selection of Linda Hertzberg, MD, to the position of ASA Director from California, as Michael Champeau, MD, the previous director, has been elected ASA Assistant Treasurer. Johnathan Pregler, MD, was elected to succeed Dr. Hertzberg as the new ASA Alternate Director. Congratulations to Drs. Hertzberg and Pregler!
As CSA members have repeatedly emphasized, advocacy continues to be one of our top priorities. The CSA Board of Directors hosted a reception on Friday afternoon in Sacramento, at our new offices overlooking the Capitol, for state legislators, legislative staff members, city officials, and representatives from the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce. A number of our guests from the Capitol community even took a moment to visit our Safe VA Care booth and submit comments to the Federal Register.
The 40-plus member CSA contingent included President James Moore, MD, President-elect Mark Zakowski, MD, our Board of Directors, our advocacy and public relations professionals, and members of the CSA Legislative and Practice Affairs Division (LPAD) chaired by Jeffrey Poage, MD. We enjoyed a superb opportunity to meet and connect with state and city leaders.
Assemblymembers Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) spoke to the group about issues facing the CSA for the upcoming year. Hot topics at the state and national levels include the adequacy (or inadequacy) of insurance plans’ physician networks, and the problem of “surprise” bills that patients often receive for necessary out-of-network care.
Mr. Cooper and Mr. Cooley both emphasized how critical it is for CSA to have a visible presence in Sacramento, especially as term limits extend legislators’ tenures and influence members’ ability to focus on solutions to long-term challenges in health care or other key issues. Other speakers discussed the importance of defeating AB 533 last year, and how, working with our partners representing the broader House of Medicine, CSA has the opportunity to advance legislation protecting patients and physicians from insurance plans that lack adequate contracted networks.
The CSA also plans this year to continue our effort to enable Certified Anesthesiologist Assistants (CAAs) to become licensed under the auspices of the Medical Board and practice in California. This initiative was discussed and supported by the state legislators present as a way to improve access to care for California patients. From the anesthesiologist’s point of view, the opportunity to employ CAAs would provide an alternative to nurse anesthetists in the anesthesia care team model.
Sacramento Vice Mayor Rick Jennings and City Council Member Eric Guerra formally welcomed the CSA to Sacramento with the presentation of a city council resolution, and promised that we would be happy with the decision to relocate our offices from San Mateo. Last year, CSA leaders chose our new management firm, AMG, and the Sacramento location, because of the advantages of proximity to the Capitol, to our friends and allies in the CMA, and to our advocacy team at KP Public Affairs headed by chief lobbyist Bryce Docherty.
Mr. Jennings and Mr. Guerra highlighted the strengths of Sacramento as a growing and vibrant city, and joined the CSA and our guests in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate our new office location.
After the reception, the CSA group held a special LPAD meeting, and listened to an enlightening legislative and tactical update from CMA Senior Vice President Janus Norman, who oversees the CMA’s Centers for Government Relations at the state and federal levels, as well as the CMA Center for Political Operations. Mr. Norman and his team worked closely with CSA on the defeat of AB 533, and look forward to successful collaboration this year. Mr. Docherty succeeded him at the podium, and outlined CSA’s major advocacy objectives for the upcoming legislative session.
Saturday was a working day for the CSA Board of Directors. We reviewed the results of the recent member survey, which we’ll tell you more about in an upcoming column.
Other topics in our day-long strategic planning retreat included a discussion of the ideal function of a non-profit board—should it delve into the details of operations and activities, or work more on strategy, policy, and oversight? The consensus was that with the competence of our new management firm and Executive Director David Butler, there will be less need for CSA officers and district directors to get into the “weeds” of detail, and more opportunity for us to focus on strategy and oversight.
The Board agreed on objectives for the future:
- Serve, maintain, and grow our membership
- Make the CSA the trusted source about anesthesiology and pain management for California patients, our peers, policymakers, and the public
- Lead and promote innovation in science, policy and practice affairs
- Provide a roadmap into the future for our members as payment models change
- Provide meetings and other educational products that members want and need
- Deliver proactive advocacy on issues that matter to our members, such as scope of practice, physician-led care, and truth in advertising for non-physician practitioners.
These and other objectives will be considered by the CSA Board of Directors at the next meeting in March, as part of an overall strategic plan to guide CSA’s operations and objectives for the next several years.
Linda Hertzberg, MD, also contributed to this article.