Keeping You Connected

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


2024 Physician Wellness Leadership awards announced

Nominations and award recipients were announced at the Physician Wellness EXPO and Dinner on April 26, 2024, in Petaluma. Awards were presented to physicians in six categories of wellness leadership achievement. Click here or the icon below for the full dinner program, which includes photographs and statements from each of the nominees. Additional details and list of awardees may be viewed in May 2024 News Briefs.

2024 Physician Wellness Expo & Dinner



January 2014

Pay your dues by Jan. 15 and receive 5% discount

Invoices for 2014 were recently mailed to all SCMA members. If you want to receive a 5% discount, simply pay by Jan. 15, 2014. The discount is already calculated on the invoice, and you can pay by check or credit card.

In addition to the standard dues, the invoice allows members to make additional donations to CMA’s political action committee (CALPAC) at a variety of levels. Donations can also be made to the MICRA Education Fund and the CMA Physician’s Issues Committee.

For questions on your invoice, contact Rachel Pandolfi at 707-525-4375 or

Benefit change: Free SCMA legal services switching to CMA

SCMA will be switching its free legal services from local attorney Larry McLaughlin to the CMA Center for Legal Affairs effective March 1. Mr. McLaughlin will continue to offer legal referrals to physicians and office staff until Sept. 1. He can be reached at his current number: 707-823-2134. The forwarding on his old number (579-4523) will expire on Feb. 1.

The CMA Center for Legal Affairs provides members with information and resources about laws and regulations that impact the practice of medicine. While CMA staff cannot provide physicians with individual legal advice, their health law information specialists, with the support of CMA legal counsel, will help you find legal information and resources on a multitude of health-law related issues, ranging from OSHA requirements to the retention of medical records. This service is free to CMA members (not available to nonmembers). For assistance, contact CMA’s member help center at 800-786-4262 or

CMA’s health law library is the most comprehensive health law and medical practice resource for California physicians. The library contains over 4,500 pages of up-to-date information on a variety of subjects of everyday importance to practicing physicians. The library includes the California Physician's Legal Handbook, as well as more specialized information on peer review, payor contracting and other topics.

ON-CALL documents from the health law library are free to CMA members ($2 per page for nonmembers) and are available online in the resource library or by calling CMA’s member help center at 800-786-4262.

Surviving the first month of Covered California

California’s health benefit exchange, Covered California, began providing health coverage to more than 400,000 patients statewide on Jan. 1. To help with the surge of Covered California patients, CMA has prepared a 2-page tip sheet, available by clicking the link below.

Surviving the first month of Covered California

As explained in detail on the tip sheet, the key points are these:

  • Check your participation status with the various exchange plans through the Covered California provider directory at
  • Contact the plan directly if you have questions or concerns about participation status. Phone numbers for plans in Sonoma County are listed below.
    •  Anthem Blue Cross: 855-238-0095
    • Blue Shield of California: 800-258-3091
    • Health Net of California: 800-641-7761
    • Western Health Advantage: 888-563-2250
  • Check the patient’s Covered CA ID card. All Covered CA ID cards will display the Covered CA logo in addition to the plan name.
  • If patients present without a Covered CA ID card, physicians can require them to pay at the time of service. The patient can be refunded whenever the ID card becomes available.
  • Use CMA’s comprehensive exchange toolkit, “CMA’s got you covered: A physician’s guide to Covered California,” available at

CMA members with further questions about Covered California have free access to CMA’s reimbursement helpline at 888-401-5911 or

MICRA update

Dustin Corcoran
[Mr. Corcoran is CEO of the California Medical Association. The following is excerpted from an update he submitted to CMA on Jan. 3.]

The New Year is upon us. With an anti-MICRA initiative slated for the November ballot, this means that the time with which we can inform the voting public of MICRA’s immense value is extremely limited. Each day between now and Election Day should be viewed as an opportunity to defend MICRA.

Trial attorneys and their front group Consumer Watchdog are on track to have collected the necessary number of signatures by sometime in mid-January, according to reports on the street. Most assume that they will not submit signatures for a few months. In the meantime, conventional wisdom suggests that they will try once again to push the Legislature to unravel MICRA. Should this scenario ultimately arise, I can assure you that CMA and the campaign team are more than prepared to beat them back on all fronts.

Over the holidays, our opponents at Consumer Watchdog continued to demonstrate the poor taste and dirty tactics we’ve come to expect from them in the fight over MICRA. On Dec. 26, Consumer Watchdog circulated a fundraising appeal hoping to capitalize on the ongoing tragedy of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old Oakland girl left brain-dead following complications stemming from a tonsillectomy performed earlier in the month. In their letter, Consumer Watchdog’s President Jamie Court callously alleged that MICRA’s cap on non-economic damages provides hospitals and doctors “an economic incentive to let children under their care who are victims of negligence die, rather than save them.” Major media outlets have picked up on the opportunistic nature of Court’s letter, with the San Francisco Chronicle labeling the tactics as “shameless fundraising.”

There have been reports of new Consumer Watchdog-sponsored billboards sprouting up in the Bay Area. The billboards, which depict three crumpled beer cans alongside the assertion that “2 in 10 doctors will be drug or alcohol impaired,” are apparently encouraging patients to report impaired physicians should they encounter them.

Consumer Watchdog is continuing to hammer upon the issue of physician impairment and drug testing simply because it polls well with potential voters. These new billboards, along with previous attacks against the medical profession, are an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of voters regarding Consumer Watchdog’s true intention--lifting MICRA’s cap and, as a result, dramatically inflating attorney fees.

As the New Year unfolds, we will undoubtedly continue to see these cheap shots from Consumer Watchdog. Rest assured that CMA will be working tirelessly to defeat the trial attorneys.

Physicians encouraged to refer patients to diabetes prevention programs

Local physicians are encouraged to refer patients at risk for diabetes to prevention programs at the Sonoma County YMCA and the Northern California Center for Well-Being. The YMCA program features 16 one-hour sessions with a lifestyle coach who works with prediabetic patients to improve nutrition, increase physical activity, overcome stress and stay motivated. The program goal is to reduce body weight by 7% and increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week. Complete details are available at

In addition, YMCA program champion Dr. Jerome Minkoff, an endocrinologist at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa, has volunteered to give informative talks about diabetes to physicians, other healthcare providers and any interested groups. His presentations cover diabetes prevention, education and treatment, among other topics. To schedule a talk by Dr. Minkoff, contact Nicole Martinovich at 707-545-9622, ext. 3412, or

The Center for Well-Being diabetes prevention class is similar to the YMCA class, but it has four 2-hour classes instead of 16 1-hour sessions. Complete details are available at

Gov. Brown's proposed budget eliminates retroactive Medi-Cal cuts

Gov. Jerry Brown has announced that California will not be moving forward with retroactive collection of a 10% cut to the Medi-Cal program. The announcement came as part of the governor's 2014-2015 fiscal year budget proposal.

“The Governor’s budget demonstrates a clear understanding of the importance that Medi-Cal has for the state’s poorest and most vulnerable patients,” said CMA President Dr. Richard Thorp. “After voicing a commitment to expand Medi-Cal eligibility and ensure that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in California be a success, restoration of the retroactive cut is a huge step in the right direction.”

The budget, however, does not stop the 10% cuts moving forward, which will give California the lowest Medicaid rates in the nation. CMA is part of a coalition working to stop the cuts. The coalition, called “We Care for California,” includes the largest statewide organizations representing physicians, dentists, hospitals and health care workers, as well as health plans, first responders, caregivers and other health providers.

“As the rest of the nation looks to California for an example of health reform success, we simply cannot move forward with a 10% prospective cut to Medi-Cal while simultaneously adding new patients to the program,” said Dr. Thorp. Under the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 million patients are expected to enter Medi-Cal over the course of the next two years.

Legislative Leadership Conference set for April 22 in Sacramento

All SCMA members are invited to CMA’s 40th annual Legislative Leadership Conference on Tuesday, April 22, at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento. This free event begins with morning speeches by political leaders, followed by afternoon sessions with local legislators. Several hundred physicians from around the state are expected to attend.

For more information, visit or contact Cynthia Melody at 707-525-4375 or


Dr. Richard Carvolth, an emergency physician at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for more than three decades, has been named chief medical officer for St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County. He replaces interim CMO Dr. John Morrison. In addition to his ER duties, Dr. Carvolth has served as a physician executive since 1997, including stints as CEO of the West Coast division of TeamHealth, and as a medical director for the Stanford University Healthcare Association.

Dr. Tara Scott and Dr. Jamie Weinstein have been named as deputy directors of the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency. They replace former deputy director Dr. Walt Mills, who recently left the program to join the family medicine residency at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. Dr. Jeff Haney continues to direct the Santa Rosa residency.

Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa has appointed two new assistant physicians in chief. Dr. David Vidaurri, chief of the physical medicine & rehabilitation department, has been named APIC for finance. Dr. Matthew Carnahan, chief of the ophthalmology department, is the new APIC for operating rooms.

The Sutter Medical Network has presented Quality Care awards to two Sonoma County physicians for earning the highest overall pay-for-performance scores during 2013. The awards went to Dr. Ana Pacheco-Clark, a Santa Rosa family physician, and Dr. Ken Murachanian, a Santa Rosa internist.


Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa is sponsoring a grant application webinar on Jan. 15 for health-related nonprofit organizations in its service area. The webinar describes how to apply for grants from Kaiser, particularly those focused on access to care, healthy eating and active living, mental health and oral health. For more information, contact Shan Magnuson or Jeannie Dulberg at 707-571-3846, or

Two evening conferences on opioid prescribing will be held at the Redwood Food Bank in Santa Rosa on Jan. 22 and Feb. 12. The first conference focuses on evaluating and managing complex chronic pain patients, and the second on tapering opioid medications. Both conferences run from 6 to 8 p.m. and offer 1.5 hours of CME credit. The cost, which includes dinner and CME credits, is $50 for the series or $30 for one session. To register, visit

The third annual Childhood Obesity Conference will be held at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 22. The featured speaker is acclaimed pediatrician Dr. Robert Lustig, who will discuss his research on sugar consumption as the underlying cause of obesity. Five other speakers are scheduled as well, along with breakout sessions, breakfast and lunch, and a networking reception. Cost is $80. To register, visit

The 21st annual HIV/AIDS Review is set for Saturday, April 5, at the Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa. Intended for physicians, mid-levels and pharmacists who provide care to people with HIV/AIDS, the review features sessions on advances in HIV testing, hepatitis C treatment and new HIV medications. Cost is $45, which includes breakfast, lunch and 5 hours of CME. To register, click here or call 707-303-8904.

Nonprofit health organizations in Sonoma County are encouraged to apply for community grants from the Pacific Foundation for Medical Care. The application deadline is April 2. The grants, generally in the $10,000 range, are awarded twice a year by the nonprofit foundation to support local projects that enhance health services. For application materials, visit or contact Kathy Pass at 707-525-4281 or

The following CMA webinars are scheduled for January. Webinars, which are typically worth one CEU credit, begin at 12:15 p.m. and run until 1:15 or later. To register, visit Seminars are free for CMA members and their staff; cost for nonmembers is $99 per person.

  • Avoiding embezzlement: A physician's guide to protecting your practice (Jan. 15)
  •  Medicare: 2014 New Rules (Jan. 16)
  •  Update on Medicare Physician Incentives (Jan. 22)
  •  HIPAA Update: Are You Compliant with the Final Omnibus Rule? (Jan. 29)


Certified medical assistant seeking full-time position.
Excellent customer and communication skills, solid IT skills, professional attitude, current BLS, strong organizational skills, and the ability to multi-task. Please contact Christine Huebner-Beakes at 779-0125 or

FOR SALE: SF Boutique-Style Family and On-Call Practice
Average revenue $407,000; very high profit margin. No third-party plans; all cash. Strong growth potential. The practice is approximately half urgent care and half primary care. Real estate also available. Practice Consultants, or 800-576-6935.

SCMA members get free classifieds!
SCMA members can place free classified ads in News Briefs or Sonoma Medicine. Cost for nonmember physicians and the general public is $1 per word. To place a classified ad, contact Linda McLaughlin at or 707-525-4359.


Ann Figurski, DO, Family Medicine, 717 Center St., Healdsburg 95448, Arizona Coll Osteo Med 2007

Maria Garcia, MD, Family Medicine*, Women’s Health, 401 Bicentennial Way #215, Santa Rosa 95403, UC San Francisco 1994

Mette Hansen, MD, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 3975 Old Redwood Hwy., Santa Rosa 95403, UC Los Angeles 1997

Michael Hubbard, MD, Internal Medicine, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403, Kirksville Coll Osteo Med 2009

Michael Lazar, MD, Urology*, Prostate Cancer, 1140 Sonoma Ave. #1A, Santa Rosa 95405, Univ Arkansas 1978

Merle Miller, MD, Emergency Medicine*, Hospice & Palliative Medicine*, 500 Doyle Park Dr. #G04, Santa Rosa 95405, Univ North Carolina 1989

Jill Rushton-Miller, MD, Family Medicine, 4700 Hoen Ave., Santa Rosa 95405, Marshall Univ 2008

Lisa Ward, MD, Family Medicine*, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Public Health & General Preventive Medicine, 3569 Round Barn Cir., Santa Rosa 95403, UC San Francisco 2001

* = board certified; italics = special medical interest


The Sonoma County Medical Association, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association, supports local physicians and their efforts to enhance the health of the community. Founded in 1858, SCMA is affiliated with the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association.

© 2014 SCMA, 2901 Cleveland Ave. #202, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

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