Los Angeles Times Examines Disagreement Over Bill To Allow Oral Surgeons To Perform Elective Cosmetic Surgeries
The Los Angeles Times on Thursday examined the "clash" over a bill (SB 1336) that would allow oral and maxillofacial surgeons to perform common elective surgeries that are generally performed by plastic surgeons (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 5/27). Oral surgeons -- many of whom are not medical doctors -- already perform some types of medically necessary facial procedures but are barred from performing such surgeries on an elective basis. The bill would permit any dentist who had completed a residency program to perform elective procedures on the neck and face, such as eye lifts and Botox injections, at patients' requests, instead of only when medically necessary. The legislation would require oral surgeons to pay a $150 fee and gain board certification. Last week, the Senate voted 33-0 to approve the bill, which is sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Jim Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga) (California Healthline, 5/20). According to the Times, there is an "aggressive lobbying campaign to kill the measure in the Assembly," and "the fight will grow more intense there." The Times reports that elective cosmetic surgeries "are among the most lucrative" procedures performed by physicians.
Physicians contend that "oral surgeons may be competent to do spot repairs to bone but cannot be trusted to dexterously mold flesh," the Times reports. In written testimony, Jack Bruner, past president of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons, said that the bill is "one of the most menacing pieces of legislation threatening public safety under consideration by this year's legislators." However, according to the Times, oral surgeons "regularly portray the plastic surgeons as prima donnas who fled the late-night world of the emergency room, where treating the injured supersedes performing a 'wallet biopsy' to make sure they are adequately insured." Dr. Larry Moore, former chief of oral surgery at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, said that plastic surgeons "want you to believe these are difficult surgeries. They are not," adding, "No one is standing up and saying, 'We've got to get these dentists out of the emergency room,' because if we left the emergency room [plastic surgeons would] have to go back. In many hospitals, you can't get a (plastic) surgeon for trauma cases, and the reason is, it doesn't pay." Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) said, "Because health care funding is limited, we have more and more people scrambling for titles and legitimacy" (Los Angeles Times, 5/27).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.