Keeping You Connected

The SMLMA keeps you up to date on the latest news,
policy developments, and events


January 2010

URGENT: Physicians need to contact legislators to support Medicare GPCI fix

Congressional leaders are expected to merge the House and Senate health care reform bills into one final bill during the next three weeks. CMA has sent a delegation to Washington, DC, to lobby for improvements, but needs your help to preserve the House bill’s update of California’s Medicare payment localities, also known as the “GPCI fix.”

All physicians are urged to contact the senators and representatives listed below and tell them to update California’s Medicare Physician Payment Locality borders by supporting the California GPCI fix in the House bill. Please make all the calls or e-mails you can. If you have only a few minutes, the top priorities are Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Boxer, and Rep. Pelosi. Every call or e-mail counts!

When contacting senators or representatives, give your name, specialty, city and county, and urge the senator or representative to support the California GPCI fix in the House bill. The GPCI fix will improve access to care in 14 California counties, including Sonoma. (For a sample e-mail and more information on the GPCI fix, visit the “Resources” page at When contacting Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Stark and Rep. Waxman, please also thank them for fighting for California physicians on this issue.

·       Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Send an e-mail or use the AMA’s grassroots hotline at 800-833-6354.

·       Sen. Barbara Boxer. Send an e-mail or use the AMA’s grassroots hotline at 800-833-6354.

·       Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-4965.

·       Rep. Henry Waxman. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-3976.

·       Rep Pete Stark. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-5065.

·       Rep. Mike Thompson. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-3311.

·       Rep. Lynn Woolsey. Send an e-mail or call 202-225-5161.

Final decisions are being made now. Please call today! Thank you!


Health Action needs primary care practices for learning collaborative by Jan. 22

By Bo Greaves, MD

Health Action of Sonoma County is organizing a learningcollaborative of 8-12 diverse primary care practices from March throughDecember this year. Each practice will be working on transforming how theiroffice operates, and on becoming a patient-centered medical home. Each practiceneeds to commit to making improvements, and to sharing their experiences withall in the collaborative.

We anticipate that each of these practices, throughout 2010,will make substantial movement toward the goal of becoming a patient-centeredmedical home (PCMH), with significant improvements in patient access, patientsafety, care coordination, and proven clinical quality. We also anticipatespreading this transformative process to other primary care practices in SonomaCounty over the next 2-3 years.

If you are up to thischallenge and ready to commit to active participation in the activitiesdescribed here, PLEASE let us know immediately. We can only acceptapplications to participate until Jan. 22. The application is quick and easy tocomplete—but remember the commitment will involve hard work! For applicationmaterials or questions, contact Pamela Moore at pmoore@rchc.netor 792-7900, Ext. 202. You may also contact me at or408-2696.

The PCMH Collaborative will kick off on March 18-19 with aone-and-a-half-day learning session, with teams (clinician, office manager,back office staff) from each practice attending. At this session, all aspectsof the PCMH will be explored, as will relationship-centered care and thechronic-care model. In addition, some basic tools for rapid office improvementwill be taught. There will then be three half-day learning sessions, held everyother month, focusing on specific aspects of how to make this fundamentalchange in our practices. We will end in December with an all-day meeting toreview the progress of each practice and set the stage for continuing changeand for expansion to other practices.

In between each session, the teams from each practice willbe expected to carry out ongoing and continuous improvement projects, each oneaimed at moving them closer to the goal of becoming a patient-centered medicalhome.

Again, for application materials or questions, contactPamela Moore at or792-7900, Ext. 202, or Dr. Bo Greaves at or408-2696.


SCMA membership continues to increase; Directory to publish in February

Despite all the turmoil in medicine locally and nationally,membership in SCMA continues to increase at a steady pace, growing 2% in thelast year. To help keep track of all those new physicians, SCMA will bepublishing the 2010 edition of its Sonoma County Physician Directory inFebruary. The directory, a standard reference book for local medical offices,includes photos and complete specialty, address and training information forSCMA members, along with an alphabetical listing of almost all localphysicians, various specialty indexes, and a guide to medical resources.

Each SCMA member receives one free copy of the directory.Additional copies cost $30 for members, $40 for nonmembers and health carefacilities, and $55 for all others. To order, visit or contact RachelPandolfi at or 525-4375.


Latest issue of Sonoma Medicine examines The Aging Brain

The Winter 2010 of Sonoma Medicine, mailed to members last week, focuses on “The Aging Brain,” with articles by local physicians on new treatments for Parkinson’s, risk factors for dementia, biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, and a Santa Rosa “brain gym.” Departments include a travelogue from the Galapagos and an article about restoring a classic car, as well as poetry and book reviews.

Each SCMA member receives one free copy of the magazine. Additional copies can be purchased at Sawyer’s News or Copperfield’s Books in Santa Rosa  or Readers’ Books in Sonoma.


Public Health offers free H1N1 vaccinations in Santa Rosa on Jan. 23

The Public Health department will be holding a free H1N1vaccination clinic at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds from 2 to 7 p.m. onSaturday, Jan. 23. “H1N1 vaccine is widely available throughout the county, andvirtually everyone over the age of 6 months should get vaccinated,” said DeputyHealth Officer Dr. Mark Netherda. He recommended that patients should firstseek the vaccine from their medical providers or local pharmacies. Those whocan’t access the vaccines in these ways should attend the free vaccination clinic.

For up-to-date information on H1N1, visit call the Public Health Information Line at 565-4477.


Center for Well-Being presents healthy eating classes at G&G Supermarket

The Northern California Center for Well-Being will bepresenting a series of healthy eating classes at the G&G Supermarket inSanta Rosa during January. Topics includes “Cooking for Your Weight” (Jan. 13),“Lower Your Cholesterol” (Jan. 20), “Cooking for Diabetes” (Jan. 27) and “BabyFood by Hand” (Jan. 29). Local physicians are encouraged to tell their patientsabout these classes, which are offered for a nominal fee. Patients can registerby visiting gandgmarket.comor calling the Center for Well-Being at 575-6043. 


Office of Education seeks judges for Science Fair

The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) is seekingvolunteers to serve as judges for their annual Science Fair, scheduled forWednesday, Feb. 24, at the SCOE office on Skylane Blvd. in Santa Rosa. Eachyear, about 100 students in grades 6-12 exhibit scientific research projects atthe fair, where their work is evaluated by qualified judges.

Physicians interested in serving as judges should contactMike Roa at or 522-3253, orJill Mcintyre at or524-2816. You can also download and submit a volunteer form by searching for“Science Fair” at requires about a half day and includes an orientation session,breakfast and lunch. 


Hospital updates

·      SantaRosa Memorial Hospital marks its 60th anniversary this year. The hospitalopened Jan. 1, 1950, as a 90-bed facility with 93 employees and 70 doctors withprivileges. Twelve patients were admitted on opening day. The number of bedshas since increased to 278, the employees to 1,832, and the doctors withprivileges to 470. During 2009, the hospital logged more than 12,000 inpatientvisits and 170,000 outpatient visits. Its parent company, the St. Joseph HealthSystem, is the county’s largest private, nonprofit employer, with almost 2,400employees altogether.

·      SignatureHealth Care announced plans to open a 90-bed psychiatric hospital in SantaRosa by 2011. The hospital, which will be located in a Fulton Road facilitythat Memorial Hospital closed during 2008, is expected to serve the inpatientpsychiatric needs for several North Bay counties.

·      The PetalumaHealth Center will receive more than $9 million in federal funding toexpand its facilities. The expansion will allow the center to double itspatient capacity, from 14,000 to as many as 30,000.

·      HealdsburgDistrict Hospital will sponsor student rotations for Sonoma State’s newDirect Entry Masters of Science in Nursing (DEMSN) program. The new program isdesigned for students with a BA or higher degree in a field other than nursing.Graduates will receive an MSN degree.


Congress at the brink of health reform

After more than a year of debate, Congress is at the brinkof passing historic legislation to expand health care coverage to millions ofAmericans. The final legislation will contain a number of provisions that CMAhas been fighting to achieve for years, such as insurance industry reforms toprotect patients, measures to make coverage more affordable for low-incomefamilies, as much as $350 billion in physician payment fixes in Medicare andMedicaid, and increased funding for primary care, physician training, andwellness and prevention. Unfortunately, the legislation will also contain someprovisions that CMA opposes.

House and Senate leaders are meeting over the next few weeksto reconcile the remaining differences between the House and Senate reformbills. Despite these differences, CMA fully expects that the House-SenateConference Committee will have the votes to produce legislation that will passboth houses of Congress and be signed by the President as soon as the end ofJanuary.

Outstanding issues still remain that CMA believes must beaddressed if the legislation is to deliver on its promise of increased accessto care. Now is the last chance to improve the legislation on six criticalissues:

Repealing theMedicare Sustainable Growth Rate. The current formula would cut funding by40% in future years if left in place and would hurt senior citizens’ ability tofind a doctor to treat them. The viability of Medicare is crucial as millionsof baby boomers retire and enter the program.

Eliminating ormodifying the proposed Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), whichcould slash spending and coverage options for senior citizens with little inputfrom others.

Increasing Medicaid’slow reimbursement rates. As it is, patients covered by Medi-Cal oftenstruggle to find a doctor because rates are so low that only about one-third ofthe state’s physicians participate in the program. Both bills dramaticallyexpand eligibility, meaning up to 2 million more patients could enter Medi-Cal,further complicating access.

Updating the Medicarelocality system to reflect changes in practice costs.

Ensuring that any physicianquality reporting program is accurate, fair, and offers physicians anopportunity to correct mistakes in the data or process.

Ensuring patientshave the right to privately contract with Medicare physicians.

You can get more information and details in CMA’s letterto the House-Senate Conference Committee, which is available on CMA’s health reform webpage.


Medicare switches from consultation codes to E&M codes; CMA offers billing guide

Despite strenuous objections from CMA and others inorganized medicine, Medicare is no longer recognizing inpatient and outpatientconsultation codes. Effective Jan. 1, physicians must instead bill usingE&M codes from the Office and Other Outpatient Services, Initial HospitalCare, and Initial Nursing Facility sections of the 2010 CPT. While CMS hasincreased the work RVUs for new and established office visits, as well asinitial hospital and nursing facility visits, these changes may result insignificant losses for some practices.

The new policy—and the short notice—have already caused agreat deal of confusion as physicians and billing managers try to make sense ofthe new rules.

To help you understand what the switch means, CMA haspublished a 4-page billingguide that includes an overview of the issue, a code crosswalk, and linksto additional resources. The guide is available to CMA members only at (You may also request a copy bycalling the CMA member help center at 800-786-4262.)

CMA members can get additional information and guidance onthis issue through a members-onlywebinar with Palmetto Medical Director Arthur Lurvey, MD. Dr. Lurvey willanswer physician questions and explain how to bill for these services in 2010and beyond. This one-hour webinar begins Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 12:15 pm.Registration is free, but space is limited, so reserve your space today.If you are unable to participate in the live webinar, it will be available foron-demand viewing beginning the following day.

Physicians who use a third-party billing service are urgedto call their vendors to make sure they are aware and prepared for the rulechange. Feel free to provide them with a copy of the CMA consult code crosswalkand billingguide.

CMA is also surveying major payors in California to find outwhich of them plan to follow Medicare’s lead and eliminate consults. Once wehave gathered this data, we will make it available to members.

For additional questions about the new rules, call the CMAmember help center at 800-786-4262 and ask to speak with a reimbursementspecialist.



Yosemite Institute for primary care physicians March 26-28

The 59th annual Postgraduate Institute for primary carephysicians will be held at the Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite National Park fromMarch 26 to 28. Tuition is $375 for physicians, $300 for allied healthprofessionals, and $100 for medical students, interns or residents. The eventqualifies for up to 16 hours of Category 1 credit. To register, visit or call 559-224-4224.


Dr. George McClary dies

Dr. George McClary, a Santa Rosa family doctor with apassion for photographing fires, died in December at the age of 82. Originallyfrom Chicago, McClary opened a private practice in Santa Rosa in 1958 and soondistinguished himself among local firefighters by being among the first respondersto fire scenes. His photos were used for training by the Santa Rosa FireDepartment, which made him an honorary fire chief in 1971. During his longcareer, McClary was a staunch advocate for mental health, helping to found theSonoma County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He retired in1983.



Ronald Botelho, MD, Anesthesiology*, Pain Medicine, CardiacAnesthesiology, 3536 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa 95403, 523-0616, Fax 523-0616,,UC San Diego 1982

M. Kathryn Brown, MD, Pediatrics*, 3925 Old Redwood Hwy., SantaRosa 95403, 566-5273, Fax 566-5292,, Univ Virginia 1993

Alicia Duenas, MD, Psychiatry*, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa95403, 571-3778, Fax 571-3799,, Univ Rochester 2004

Christopher Gaut, MD, Emergency Medicine, 401 Bicentennial Way,Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4800, Fax 393-4747,, UC Davis 1994

Anna Kogan, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 500 Doyle Park Dr.#103, Santa Rosa 95405, 579-1102, Fax 579-1386, Rosalind Franklin Univ 2005

Kenneth Kurtz, MD, Allergy & Immunology*, Internal Medicine,401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4133, Fax 393-4560,, UC San Diego 1991

Daniel Loube, MD, Pulmonary Disease*, Critical Care Medicine*,Sleep Medicine*, 1165 Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa 95404, 543-2910, Fax 544-2389,, George Washington Univ 1987

Katie Noyes, MD, Family Medicine, 3320 Chanate Rd., Santa Rosa95404, 547-2220, Fax 303-3318, Dartmouth Med Sch 2009

Daniel Santiago, MD, Family Medicine*, 144 Stony Point Rd., SantaRosa 95401, 521-4500, Fax 544-4626,

Thomas Shragg, MD, Pulmonary Disease*, Critical Care Medicine*, 401Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4610, Fax 393-4775,, UCDavis 1975

Rami Turk, MD, Cardiovascular Disease, 3536 Mendocino Ave. #200,Santa Rosa 95403, 573-6166, Fax 573-6165,, Emory Univ 2003

Jitesh Vasadia, MD, Cardiovascular Disease*, 401 Bicentennial Way,Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4006, Fax 393-4188,, Osmania MedColl 1997

Laura Westerling, MD, Dermatopathology*, 401 Bicentennial Way,Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4112, Fax 393-4871,, UnivSouthern California 2003

Eric Williams, MD, Dermatology*, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa95403, 393-4112, Fax 393-4871,, Univ Southern California2003

Jill Young, MD, Pediatrics*, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa,393-2091, Fax 393-4556,, Mayo Med Sch 1988

* board certified



Medical Office Space
Small suite available for reasonable rent. Three exam rooms, southeastSanta Rosa. Call Connie, 707-525-0211.

Medical Office Space
Suite available. Perkins Medical Center, Sonoma. 1800+/- square ft.$2890/mo. 707-996-4519.

How to submit a classified ad
To submit a classified ad for SCMA News Briefs or Sonoma Medicine, contact NanPerrott at nperrott@rhscommunications.comor 707-525-4226. The cost is one dollar per word.



The Sonoma County Medical Association, a 501(c)(6) nonprofitassociation, supports local physicians and their efforts to enhance the healthof the community. Founded in 1858, SCMA is affiliated with the CaliforniaMedical Association and the American Medical Association.

© SCMA 2010
3033 Cleveland Ave. #104
Santa Rosa, CA 95403



You are receiving SCMA News Briefs because you are aphysician or an affiliated medical professional in Sonoma County. If you wishto unsubscribe, contact Steve Osborn at sosborn@scma.orgor 707-525-4325.


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