Physician’s Group Helps Defeat Bill On State Training
by Laurence Darmiento
Any perception that Assemblyman Keith Richman, the only doctor in the Legislature, is in the pocket of the California Medical Association has likely been put to rest.
The CMA launched an all-out war last month to derail AB 2422, a pet bill by the Granada Hills Republican that would have required doctors to get continuing medical education in disaster management as a condition of renewing their licenses.
The CMA, which believes doctors, not legislators, should determine licensing criteria, chortled in its weekly publication to members the other week that it “single-handedly” defeated the bill, which died in committee.
At the same time, the CMA publication noted how it helped push out of committee AB 2422, another Richman bill that would require health plans to disclose to consumers the amount of their premium dollar actually spent on health care.
“Dr. Richman shares the same concerns that we do, but what’s obvious is that we don’t always agree on the issues,” said CMA chief executive Jack Lewin.
Richman has been dogged by a perception that he carries water for the CMA, ever since entering the state assembly in 2000 and introducing AB 32, a bill with strong CMA support intended to broaden coverage of the uninsured.
He has introduced other bills with CMA backing, but Richman notes that he also has clashed with the medical association over recent efforts to reform the workers’ compensation system.
“There is a presumption that because I am a physician that I have a very close relationship with the CMA, and that would be accurate,” said Richman, a CMA member. ” But they do what they think is right and I do what I think is right.”
Another of the region’s individual physicians practice associations is bankrupt, but this time there’s a twist. The Southern California Physicians Individual Practice Association filed a Chapter 7 petition last month, but that came a year after the IPA sold off its patient contracts in April 2001.
The West Covina-based IPA wanted to dissolve itself without bankruptcy court protection, but filed the petition after being named in two lawsuits, said attorney Matthew Fairshter.
“At that point it became clear there was no way to exit this (cleanly),” he said.
Even though the IPA had just $7,156 in assets and $664,557 in debts at the time of the April 1 filing, Fairshter said the IPA could have reached voluntary agreements with its creditors since most were owed little. (The petition listed nearly 220 creditors who, on average, were owed just over $3,000 each.)
In Other News
Catholic Healthcare West has reached a labor accord with the Service Employees International Union that gives nurses, respiratory therapists and other workers at 11 Southern California hospitals a minimum 14 percent wage hike. Included are Northridge Hospital Medical Center and St. Mary Medical Center.
Staff reporter Laurence Darmiento can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 237, or at