What Members Advocate For
Ensuring Access to Quality Medical Care
The Los Angeles County Medical Association is dedicated to ensuring all those living in Los Angeles County have access to quality medical care. As physicians, we know the impact efficient and effective treatment can have on the outcomes of patients. Access is essential for increasing prevention, tracking infections, and most of all, protecting the public health of our greater Los Angeles communities.
LACMA ‘s key accessibility advocacy areas have included:
- Championing universal health care coverage
- Advocating for adequate, accurate and transparent provider networks
- Stopping insurers from canceling coverage for patients after they become seriously ill, a practice known as rescissions
- Defending our injunction against Medi-Cal provider cuts, saving doctors more than $100 million and helping Medi-Cal patients keep their doctors
- Streamlining and improving the physician licensing process at the Medical Board of California and filing a lawsuit to exempt the Medical
- Board from any state furloughs to avoid additional licensing backlogs
- Partnering with AARP to aggressively advocate against Medicare cuts that harm seniors’ access to doctors
Strengthening the Health of Local Communities
LACMA members passionately believe in keeping their communities healthy by ensuring affordable access to preventive services, all while providing them with crucial information outlining healthy choices relating to nutrition, exercise, and the environment.
LACMA’s key public health advocacy areas have included:
- Leading the fight against smoking and tobacco use
- Championing the creation of a separate Department of Public Health
- Encouraging routine HIV screening in health care settings by streamlining the consent process
- Supporting legislation to ensure that children are fully immunized against devastating but preventable diseases, such as pertussis
- Promoting childhood obesity prevention strategies, such as restaurant menu labeling, banning soda in school, supporting safe routes for children to walk and bike to school, and maintaining rigorous P.E. standards in school;
- Supporting strict limits on diesel emissions to help prevent disease caused by poor air quality
- Joining manufacturers and state and local public health officials to advocate for timely and equitable distribution of seasonal influenza vaccines, so doctors have an adequate supply on hand to meet the needs of their patients
Advancing Careers in Health
As Los Angeles County’s population grows rapidly, the demand for physicians increases as well. Our county is culturally and ethnically diverse, and many areas that have traditionally been medically underserved are expected to see the greatest growth in population.
At the same time, many of Los Angeles County’s physicians are approaching retirement age, and the pipeline designed to replace them is experiencing bottlenecks at both the medical school and residency training levels. Medical school debt is growing faster than physician income, and it is one of the primary reasons that the supply of primary care physicians is lagging, even further behind that of specialists.
LACMA is committed to expanding efforts to encourage the education and training of more physicians in Los Angeles County.
Protecting the Physician-Patient Relationship
Physicians view the doctor-patient relationship as sacrosanct, the very foundation of healthcare. This relationship stems from a physician’s primary ethical obligation – to place a patient’s welfare above their own self-interest and above obligations to other groups, and to advocate for their patient’s welfare. LACMA has passionately fought to protect this precious doctrine on multiple fronts.
Preserving Economic Stability and Fair Payment
Physicians and their practices are frequently plagued by payment issues with insurers and the government. Underpayment or lack of payment jeopardizes the economic viability of physicians and their practices, and in so doing, threatens patients’ access to care.
LACMA has championed laws designed to protect patients by ensuring physicians are financially capable of providing service for patients. Physicians must be protected from HMO abuse in order to protect the public interest in a viable health care delivery system. LACMA staff work to support and ensure physician economic stability in several critical ways:
- Preventing onerous provisions from getting into physician contracts
- Providing physicians the tools to assess whether to sign contracts in the first place
- Helping physicians overcome barriers to receiving prompt and fair reimbursement
- Advocating for fair and timely payment of provider claims by alerting legislative and regulatory bodies about HMO payment abuses
- Ensuring that a reasonable portion of every health care premium dollar goes to direct patient care, and not to health plan profits or wasteful administrative expenses
- Battling for years to prohibit health plans from unfairly rescinding health coverage after costly claims arise, leaving sick patients with no insurance and nowhere to turn for desperately needed care
Championing Innovation and Technology
Under the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, or the “Stimulus Act”), physicians are eligible for incentives for making the transition to electronic health records (EHRs).
Given California’s size, this incentive program could bring hundreds of millions of new federal dollars to the state, and generate thousands of new high-paying jobs in the health information technology (HIT) sector.
LACMA has been at the vanguard in helping Los Angeles County physicians to understand this opportunity and to retool their practices to access these federal funds. Some of our efforts have included providing:
- Education about federal rules and regulations
- Discounts on vetted and approved EHR systems
- Webinars and educational seminars for physicians
LACMA will continue to be a trusted resource for physicians who are accessing this unprecedented opportunity.