California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

California Medical Association Finds Success in Lobbying Efforts

The California Medical Association has been successful in its efforts to support and defeat various health-related bills and ballot initiatives, and the doctors' lobbying group is set to address several more issues in the coming year, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.

Details of Lobbying Efforts

According to "Capitol Alert," CMA has spent $11.4 million on lobbying efforts since 2009, averaging about $437,000 per quarter.

Last year, CMA succeeded in helping to defeat Proposition 46, which aimed to increase the state's $250,000 limit on pain-and-suffering awards in malpractice lawsuits (Cadelago, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 10/12). In November 2014, California voters rejected Prop. 46 in a 67.1% to 32.9% vote after the campaign against the ballot measure raised nearly $60 million -- seven times more than the campaign supporting the ballot initiative (California Healthline, 11/6/14).

Meanwhile, CMA also played a role in helping to pass new California laws related to:

  • Childhood vaccination requirements (SB 277), which it supported; and
  • Physician-assisted death (ABX2-15), which it held a neutral stance on.

The medical association also helped defeat a bill (AB 533) that aimed to protect patients from surprise out-of-network bills when seeking care at an in-network facility.

Future Efforts

CMA's next lobbying effort will focus on a November 2016 ballot initiative for a $2-per-pack tobacco tax, "Capitol Alert" reports.

Some proceeds of the tax would go toward increasing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

CMA CEO Dustin Corcoran said, "In this campaign, tobacco is going to face the strongest, most organized and well-funded effort that's ever been mounted against them."

In total, CMA could be involved in up to five other ballot initiatives next year, including one related to marijuana.

Consumer Advocates Criticize CMA

Meanwhile, CMA has received criticism from some consumer advocates.

For example, Jamie Court -- president of Consumer Watchdog, which had supported Prop. 46 -- said CMA had sold out on its principles.

He called the association a "go-along to get-along country club organization that lacks the fortitude to go after the insurers" over patients' rights.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, said, "When the CMA is embodying that public health voice, they can be very powerful," adding, "But I think it's also appropriate that they are scrutinized when they are advocating for just the self-interest of doctors" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 10/12).

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