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Legislative priorities: Caring for our patients

Dr. Laura L. SirottLaura L. Sirott, MD, District IX secretary

The 2014 legislative year brings a number of contentious issues to the forefront for ob-gyns. The District IX Legislative Committee focuses on legislation affecting women and those who provide them care. In 2013, a legislative survey was sent to District IX members to help us focus our work on the issues that are important to you.

On March 24, Consumer Watchdog, a front group for the Consumer Attorneys of California, submitted roughly 830,000 signatures to qualify an initiative for the November ballot that would eliminate key provisions in the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). The initiative would quadruple the non-economic damages cap, which would significantly increase health care costs for patients and operating costs for providers, hospitals, and community clinics that are already struggling to keep their doors open.

You may hear rhetoric from proponents of the measure about how it will increase patient safety through physician drug testing. However, the president of Consumer Watchdog recently admitted in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that the drug-testing provisions were added simply because they polled well.

The ballot initiative is opposed by a broad coalition of nearly 1,000 groups. District IX joins with the California Medical Association and Californians Allied for Patient Protection to strongly oppose this initiative. PLEASE do not respond directly to media inquiries, but refer them to Michelle Clark, District IX manager, at mclark@acog.org.

Other legislative priorities include bills:

  • Prohibiting sterilization of female inmates without state approval
  • Limiting environmental toxin exposure
  • Reversing the 10% Medi-Cal rate cuts
  • Ensuring ob-gyns share in the 10% Medi-Cal primary care rate bump
  • Establishing new primary care residency programs, including ob-gyn

We’re also dealing with ongoing state budget battles for funding for programs essential to patient care, such as the Black Infant Health Program, which has been shown to reduce infant mortality of African-American infants. 

For more information on our positions or concerns or questions regarding our legislative agenda, please contact Shannon Smith-Crowley, JD, MHA, District IX director of government relations, at shannon@partnersadvocacy.com or me at llsirott@gmail.com.