For 163 years (as of 2019), the California Medical Association (CMA) has been one of the state’s leading voices in the field of public health. Beginning with the call to form one of the nation’s first government departments dedicated to public health in the 1870s and continuing to present-day concerns such as obesity, AIDS and tobacco use, CMA remains committed to the betterment of life for all Californians. CMA’s recenty key victories and priorities include:
A Record of Success: Through aggressive political and regulatory advocacy, CMA has positioned itself as one of the most influential stakeholders in the development and implementation of health policy. CMA also gives our members – physicians, residents and medical students – direct access to our state’s and nation’s legislative leaders so they can have a positive impact on their patients and the practice of medicine.
Keeping Kids from Smoking: CMA successfully passed a sweeping series of tobacco control bills—including raising the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21—that will undoubtedly save countless California children from a deadly, lifetime addiction to nicotine.
Tobacco Tax: CMA dealt a resounding blow to the tobacco industry with the passage of Proposition 56 (2016), which raised the tax on all tobacco products, including e-cigarette liquids. The money raised by the tax will fund health care costs and research into cures for cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.
School Vaccinations: CMA sponsored a successful bill that eliminated the personal belief exemption from school vaccination requirements, barring parents from skipping their children’s school-required immunizations unless they have a medical exemption from a physician. Since the bill passed in 2015, kindergarten immunization rates have gone up dramatically.
Sugar Sweetened Beverages: There is overwhelming evidence of the link between obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. CMA is sponsoring a 2020 ballot initiative that would implement a statewide tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, such as soft drinks, energy drinks, sweet teas and sports drinks, and provide at least $1.7 billion in revenue for critical health programs.
Preventing Firearm Violence: As with other public health issues, Physicians have a unique responsibility as trusted public health figures to respond to the harms associated with firearm violence, both as individual clinicians and as community advocates. CMA’s Firearm Violence Prevention Technical Advisory Committee works to identify opportunities and resources that may aid physicians in addressing firearm violence as a public health issue.
Diabetes Prevention: Diabetes remains one of California’s fastest-growing and most costly diseases. CMA has taken an active role in promoting awareness of prediabetes resources, to help providers connect their patients to CDC-recognized diabetes prevention programs and allow patients to take charge of their health.