President's Message: The coming year, and beyond

January 14, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Payor Issues and Reimbursement Physician Leadership 

Although 2014 will long be remembered as the year that all modes of practice and specialties of the House of Medicine came together in a group effort to defeat Proposition 46, it is imperative that we maintain the momentum we have gained as we confront the issues of the coming year and beyond.

Following such a historic year, I would like to take a moment to reflect on what we have accomplished and what we can look forward to over the next 12 months.

I have, for over three decades, been a firm believer in the institution of organized medicine and the good that we can accomplish with unified action. As the President of the Humboldt-Del Norte Medical Society and Chair of the Council on Legislation, and in my time as Vice Speaker and Speaker of the House of Delegates, I have seen you all accomplish remarkable feats together. Whether it has been determining our stance on the sweeping changes of health system reform; combating unwarranted extensions of allied health professionals' scope of practice; fighting for access to care; working to ensure the practice of medicine is dedicated to patient welfare rather than the insurance bottom line; redefining Medicare geographic payments, and on and on; we have been able to get all this done because we work together for the benefit of all.

Our political power was evidenced this November when we handed the trial attorneys' Proposition 46 an unprecedented two-for-one electoral defeat, in conjunction with an unparalleled coalition across all party and advocacy lines. We distributed over three million lab coat cards, hundreds of thousands of patient brochures, posters and yard signs all over the state, mostly because of the ground game we mobilized.

Such a victory would never have been possible if not for the dedication we all had to one another and to the future of the practice of medicine.

It is indeed a great honor to follow in the footsteps of Richard Thorp, M.D., who as last year's president led an incomparable team effort to victory, not only with Proposition 46, but also the other battles and challenges we faced.

So what does that mean for the year ahead?

Already, the California Medical Association (CMA) has been involved in a public launch to increase the tobacco tax in California. We currently stand 47th in the nation in that regard. A broad coalition of public health advocates will be working all across the state. This action may end up being a legislative effort, or perhaps a ballot initiative, but we will be pressing forward this year.

We know that as millions of citizens are signing up for health insurance coverage, it is more important than ever to ensure that they have real access to quality medical care, not just a card promising care without the infrastructure to deliver. To that end, CMA has been working with partners to educate physicians and patients about their choices.

Many other issues are sure to arrive in the coming year; they always do. As a group, united, we can accomplish great things, as we have already proven.

I look forward to working with you all in the exciting new year.

Luther F. Cobb, M.D.
CMA President


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