CMA President-Elect Discusses Medicare, ERs and HMOs
Federal cuts in Medicare reimbursements and the "financial crisis" among the state's emergency rooms "will loom over health care this year," California Medical Association President-elect Dr. John Whitelaw said Tuesday, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. California physicians are "alarmed" over a proposed 5.4% cut to Medicare reimbursements, Whitelaw said. The CMA supports emergency legislation aimed at "freez[ing] rates" at their current level. "The flood of physicians leaving this state will become a torrent if they don't get paid enough to deliver care to seniors. We cannot be standing still on the Medicare cuts," Whitelaw said. Whitelaw also addressed emergency rooms' staffing and funding problems, saying that "there may be a need for emergency rooms to be part of public health functions" through a government subsidy or property taxes. He said that the CMA opposes current plans for a quarter-cent sales tax to fund ERs, saying, "we don't believe it is a go in this economy." Instead, he said the CMA is considering supporting legislation that would redirect a percentage of moving violation fines to fund salaries of ER doctors. Whitelaw also said that HMOs "are not working and they appear destined to return" to the fee-for-service system. "I believe the classic HMO is a dinosaur at this point," he said (Rose, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 11/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.