SAN DIEGO COUNTY: Medical Society Plans One-Day Shutdown
Hoping to heighten public concern about low reimbursement rates from insurers and cuts in government-funded health programs, leaders of the San Diego County Medical Society, a chapter of the California Medical Association, have urged doctors to shut down their offices on Thursday, Oct. 26, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The SDCMS will also hold a rally that day, urging the public to complain to legislators, employers and insurers about the "critical shortage in health care funding," SDCMS President-elect Dr. James Hay said. "We want people to understand how desperate the medical system in San Diego is," he added. According to University of California-San Diego associate professor Richard Kronick, however, increasing health care funding ties closely with raising doctors' incomes, which may raise public doubts about the intentions of the rally. Instead, Kronick argued that the SDCMS should focus on the county's 600,000 uninsured residents. "I'm confident physicians are concerned for the welfare of their patients, but the biggest health care concern in our community is health care for the uninsured," he said. While Sylvia Hampton, president of the Coalition for Quality Health Care, opposes the shutdown, she admitted, "what really distresses me is that doctors feel they've been pushed to the wall." Hay said he could not predict how many physicians would close their offices, but noted that patients could still contact doctors or receive emergency care at hospitals. Although labor laws prohibit doctors from striking, they can close their offices "at any time for any reason," David Thornton, chief of enforcement for the state medical board, said (Fong, 9/21).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.