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2008 LEGISLATIVE DAY IN SACRAMENTO disorders that an optometrist may treat and

Los Angeles to farm

also provides them unmitigated prescriptive

worker health clinics

authority. SB 1406 would eliminate the

in the Central Valley to

mandatory collaborative relationship

rural health facilities in

between optometrists and ophthalmologists

Northern California.

relating to the treatment of such disorders as glaucoma and AIDS-related infections of the

Funding for the STLRP has

eye. The bill places the oversight for such

been unpredictable and

authority under the purview of the Board of

insufficient. Every year,

Optometry, rather than the Medical Board.

demand for the program

In essence, the bill provides the optometrist

far exceeds available

the discretion to decide the limits of their

funding.

own education and scope of practice. This bill would close a

CMA coordinated a silent march to the capitol, which placed awareness and emphasis on the impact of the 10% Medi-Cal physician funding cuts.

Key points included:

loophole in current law

Overly Broad. Allows optometrists

that rewards insurers for

Although no legislation has been introduced,

to diagnose and treat glaucoma, eye

breaking the law by allowing fines and

it was important to use the meetings with

infections brought on by AIDS-related

penalty assessments to offset the fees they

legislators as an opportunity to educate

complications, and treat eye infections

pay to support the Department of Managed

them about this important program and how

in children. Allows optometrists to

Health Care (DMHC). This bill would instead

the decision to terminate the program will

perform nearly all eye surgery, including

use these fines and penalties to help get

compromise patient safety.

LASIK and cataract surgery. Provides

doctors into underserved communities by

prescriptive authority, including the

providing funding for the STLRP.

use of injectables and oral medications.

SCCMA Members in Attendance The SCCMA wishes to acknowledge and

Without fundamental medical education

Key points included:

thank the following members and Alliance

and training, these powers will

This bill will make sure insurance

members who participated in the CMA

jeopardize patient safety.

companies don’t benefit from breaking

Legislative Leadership Conference in

Lack of Oversight. Requires the

the law.

Sacramento on April 15:

This bill will help address doctor

Amara Balakrishnan, MD

shortages in underserved communities.

Jean Cassetta

California State Board of Optometry and not the Medical Board to determine

the appropriate education, training,

Judith Dethlefs, MD

and certification for optometrists to

Diversion Program Closure

Alexander Ding, MD

essentially practice medicine.

On July 26, 2007, the Medical Board

Len Doberne, MD

of California (MBC) abandoned their

Martin Fishman, MD

SB 1379: Funding for Physician Loan Repayment Program (CMASponsored Bill)

responsibility to the public by voting to

Meg Giberson

end the Physician Diversion Program after

James Hinsdale, MD

27 years. This program was designed to

Elliot Lepler, MD

In response to physician shortages in

help rehabilitate physicians with drug,

Bien Nguyen, MD

underserved areas, in 2002 the Legislature

alcohol, or mental health problems without

Bill Parrish

passed the California Physician Corps Loan

placing the public in danger. Instead of

Donald Prolo, MD

Repayment Program (later renamed to honor

addressing problems in the administration

Debbi Ricks

the late Steven M. Thompson). Physicians

of the program, as advocated by the CMA,

Siggie Stillman

selected for the program are eligible for

the MBC chose the easier course and voted

Howard Sutkin, MD

medical school loan repayment grants of up

instead to end the program completely. The

to $105,000, in exchange for a 3-year service

CMA is working with other stakeholders,

The CMA has been very effective this

commitment in a medically underserved

including the California Society for Addiction

year on the legislative front. All legislation

area of the state. Steve Thompson Loan

Medicine and the California Psychiatric

opposed by CMA was defeated in 2007, and

Repayment Program (STLRP) recipients

Association, to reconstruct a physician health

most supported legislation has either passed

work in a variety of settings all over the

program that will protect the public and

or remains under active consideration.

state, from community clinics in downtown

allow physicians to address their diseases.

the bulletin

JULY / AUGUST 2008

27

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