San Diego Union-Tribune Profiles CMA President Hertzka
The San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday profiled California Medical Association President Robert Hertzka, a "physician by training and politico by nature" who has "helped drive the direction of the medical community through his activity in state and national medical societies." Hertzka, a San Diego anesthesiologist, has served on several local health advisory boards and medical groups and is one of the youngest members of the American Medical Association's political action committee.
Although membership in medical organizations has been declining nationwide in recent years, CMA's membership has increased to about 35,000, "after a dip by several thousand a few years ago," the Union-Tribune reports.
Hertzka said his goals as CMA president include increasing membership, unifying the group's policy positions on access to care, strengthening the group's political action committee and increasing the focus on patients and medical students. Under his leadership, CMA is supporting a measure that would mandate catastrophic health insurance coverage for state residents and has proposed linking the group's PAC funding to membership, a change that would increase funds by about 300%. In addition, CMA supported Proposition 67, a measure defeated on the Nov. 2, 2004, statewide ballot that would have provided funds for emergency services through a telephone surcharge.
Hertzka -- a "proud Republican" -- said he has further political aspirations but does not plan to seek office at this time, the Union-Tribune reports.
Rosemarie Marshall Johnson, a retired anesthesiologist, said that Hertzka is "an astute reader of the political scene and knows very well how to bring medicine's message to our legislators," adding, "He's extremely devoted to the medical process."
Jim Hay, a family physician in Encinitas and CMA officer, described Hertzka as "the most politically connected physician in California and probably one of the most politically connected physicians in the United States" (Skidmore, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/1).