LICENSING FEES: CMA, CMB Agree to Work on Compromise
The California Medical Board and the California Medical Association, long embroiled in a bitter debate over whether physicians' licensing fees should be raised to improve oversight of errant doctors, have agreed to delay rival pieces of legislation so they "can try to work out a compromise." The CMB was seeking a $45 yearly increase to the $300 annual fee so it could hire more investigators. The CMA, which has effectively blocked the fee increase for the past five years, had its own legislation that would have made "the discipline system more physician-friendly." The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that representatives from the CMB, CMA and the state attorney general's office "will enter negotiations" to try to work out an agreement. "If we can make a deal, we can guarantee that we will eventually get the fee increase," said CMB Executive Director Ron Joseph. CMA lobbyist Bob McElderry said the delay should foster compromise. "This is a tactic to delay a fee increase. It's a way to resolve the issue." State Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) said, "This gives everyone a chance to bring down the level of public hostility." But at least one consumer group was not pleased with the decision. Julianne D'Angelo Fellmeth of the Center for Public Interest Law said, "I feel like the CMA has won because the medical board needs a fee increase now. Consumers of California need a fee increase now" (Ainsworth, 4/27).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.