Keeping You Connected

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


February 2012

Influential family physician to speak in Santa Rosa on March 7

Dr. Ted Epperley, a nationally recognized advocate for family medicine, will speak at the 6th annual Excellence in Primary Care Conference in Santa Rosa on March 7. The conference, to be held at the Vista Family Health Center from 6 to 8 p.m., will include a complimentary light dinner and presentation of the Sonoma County Family Physician of the Year award. The address is 3569 Round Barn Circle. See the flyer below for more details.


Excellence in Primary Care Conference flyer


A strong advocate of healthcare reform, Epperley has met repeatedly with President Obama and has just published a new book, “Staring into the Soul of America: Why We Struggle with Healthcare for All.” He is CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, a clinical professor of family medicine at the University of Washington, and a past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.


The conference is open to all local physicians and is cosponsored by several local health organizations, including SCMA. To RSVP, contact Cecilia Awayan at the California Academy of Family Physicians at or 415-345-8667.


Nominations needed for SCMA election

In preparation for the upcoming SCMA election, all members are urged to submit nominations for leadership positions by March 14. Nominees must be SCMA members in good standing. Nominations are requested for the following positions:

• SCMA president-elect

• SCMA board representatives from North County (1), Petaluma/Rohnert Park (1), and Santa Rosa (2)

• CMA delegates (2)

• CMA alternate delegates (2)


All positions require a three-year commitment, beginning July 1. Nominations can be emailed to, faxed to 525-4328, or mailed to SCMA, 2901 Cleveland Ave. #202, Santa Rosa, CA 95403. Each nomination should include a brief statement about the nominee’s qualifications.


For more details, contact Cynthia Melody at or 525-4375.


Take the CMA survey about Medicare audits by Feb. 3

Physicians throughout California are urged to complete a brief survey from CMA about how repeated Medicare audit requests are affecting their practices. Palmetto, the Medicare administrator contractor for California, has been sending multiple requests for medical records to physician offices and is delaying payment to physicians for claims associated with the records.


If your office has received requests for medical records from Palmetto, please complete the survey at The results will assist CMA in its negotiations with Medicare. The deadline is Feb. 3.


Enroll now for important Medicare seminar in Santa Rosa

Physicians and office staff are encouraged to attend “Medicare 2012 & Beyond: Know Your Rights,” a 6-hour seminar scheduled for April 18 at the Fountaingrove Inn in Santa Rosa. The seminar, which runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., is cosponsored by SCMA and CMA. Topics include the Medicare physician fee schedule, 2012 updates and reminders, medical review audits, and preparing for ICD-10. The presenter is Michele Kelly, associate director of the CMA Center for Economic Services. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.


Cost is $55 for SCMA members and $105 for nonmembers. To register, fax the flyer below to SCMA at 707-525-4328 or contact Rachel Pandolfi at 707-525-4375 or


April 18 Medicare Seminar flyer

Unspent military funds could be used to repeal the Medicare SGR formula

Now that Congress is back in session, one of the first orders of business is to address the looming 27% cuts in Medicare payments to physicians. The cuts have been delayed until March 1 in the hopes that some kind of compromise can be found. One such possibility is a plan recently floated by House Democrats to use unspent military funding from early troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan to repeal the Medicare SGR payment formula.


That idea and others will be considered by a House-Senate conference committee that includes two strong physician advocates from California: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles). CMA, AMA and many other medical associations have united to push for the House Democrats’ plan, which could cover the $300 billion cost of eliminating the SGR formula. The AARP has joined in as well, launching a campaign with the message, “Medicare patients could lose access to the doctors they know and trust in just a few weeks.”


CMA continues to urge physicians to call Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and ask them to protect access to care in California by using unspent military funds to repeal the Medicare SGR. Let them know that the SGR cuts must be stopped before the March 1 deadline. Call the AMA Grassroots Hotline at 800-833-6354, plug in your zip code, and you will automatically be connected to your senator.

Physicians invited to meet legislative candidates

With the election year in full swing, SCMA is arranging for interviews with local candidates for the U.S. Congress and the California Assembly. Dates and locations have yet to be established, but if you are interested in attending, please contact SCMA Executive Director Cynthia Melody at or 707-525-4375.

Blue Cross ordered to pay money owed to doctors, dating back to 2007

The California Department of Managed Health Care has ordered Anthem Blue Cross to pay physicians money owed to them, with interest, for services provided dating back to 2007. The action is a result of Anthem’s refusal to remediate physicians and other providers following a financial claims audit that identified errors in payment of medical claims.


CMA President Dr. James Hay applauded the DMHC order. “We provide necessary care to our patients based on the assumption that the health plans will promptly and accurately reimburse us for services rendered,” he said. “Anthem Blue Cross’s refusal to pay for a mistake on their end puts an undue burden on those of us who provide care.”


In 2008, DMHC launched claims audits of the seven largest health plans in California due to a growing pattern of complaints regarding late and inaccurate payments and inappropriate claim denials. These audits found claims payment violations above the threshold allowed under California law at all seven health plans.


In response to the audits, DMHC required the plans to pay providers the money they were owed and to demonstrate improvements to claims processes to prevent future errors. In addition, each plan entered into settlement agreements to pay administrative fines. To date, six of the seven plans have undertaken remediation efforts, but Anthem has refused to pay for claims violations uncovered in the audit. The company has to send DMHC a corrective action plan this month to identify the claims that were not correctly paid and pay the providers as prescribed by law.

Blue Shield begins recontracting with physicians across state

Blue Shield is in the process of recontracting with physicians across California and has begun mailing notices to physicians in selected counties, including several in the North Bay. The company explained that they have not recontracted with physicians in over a decade, and that they will be offering various tiered networks in anticipation of California’s health insurance exchange, a key feature of the federal health reform law.


The initial mailing will go to physicians in Marin, Napa and Lake counties, with others to follow later. Physicians are under no obligation to participate in any of these products, and there are no fee schedule changes at this time, other than for Medicare lines of business. The cover letter asks that physicians review, sign and return the new agreement to Blue Shield by Feb. 17, but the company has assured CMA that failure to return the new agreement will not affect a physician’s participation status.


To assist physicians, CMA has completed an analysis of the new Blue Shield contract, available to members at Physicians are encouraged to review and understand the legal and practical implications of the contract. For additional information, see CMA’s contracting toolkit, “Taking Charge: Steps to Evaluating Relationships and Preparing for Negotiations,” also available at


Physicians with concerns about the new contract should contact Blue Shield Provider Services at 800-258-3091 or CMA’s reimbursement helpline at 888-401-5911 or

Still time to get free EHR assistance from CalHIPSO

Primary care physicians who are transitioning to electronic health records have until Feb. 29 to sign up for free assistance from CalHIPSO, a nonprofit organization that offers technical advice, access to vendors, educational webinars, reduced pricing on software, and many other benefits.


Free CalHIPSO enrollment is available to primary care physicians in small private practices, community health centers, rural health clinics or certain hospital ambulatory care clinics. Primary care physicians in other types of practice settings can enroll in CalHIPSO for just $150.


Interested physicians should visit or contact Kent Waldsmith at or 510-285-5745.

Physicians needed for statewide Clinical Laboratory Advisory Committee

CMA is soliciting nominations of physicians to serve on the Clinical Laboratory Technology Advisory Committee (CLTAC), which advises the California Department of Public Health on matters related to clinical laboratories. CMA is specifically seeking nominations for physicians who are engaged in office-based laboratory testing.


The CLTAC is a multidisciplinary committee comprised of 22 representatives from various interest groups related to clinical laboratories. Interested candidates are invited to submit a statement of interest and a current CV demonstrating their qualifications and background to Kimberly Henning by email to or by fax to 916-444-5689. The deadline is Feb. 17.


Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, medical director of emergency services at Palm Drive Hospital, has been selected as the hospital’s chief of staff for 2012. Other new officers include radiologist Dr. Ingo Rencken, the chief of staff-elect, and pediatrician/internist Dr. Misty Zelk, the secretary-treasurer.


Dr. Peter Brett, a medical oncologist who specializes in treating melanoma, has joined the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation and opened an office at 4702 Hoen Ave. in Santa Rosa. He previously worked for the Redwood Regional Medical Group.


Sebastopol urologist Dr. Peter Bretan recently participated in a medical mission to the Philippines organized by the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California. A team of 12 surgeons from several specialties completed 140 surgeries and saw 23,000 patients.


CMA is hosting two webinars this month. Key Financial Ratios To Increase Profitability, scheduled for 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Feb. 1, teaches critical skills for analyzing profit/loss statements for overhead expense, accounts receivable and staffing ratios, and how to access specialty comparison norms for benchmarking. HIPAA Risk Analysis for Meaningful Use, scheduled for 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Feb. 15, provides detailed instruction on the steps needed to complete a HIPAA risk analysis, a key element in qualifying for electronic health record funding. To register for either seminar, visit


The 19th annual HIV/AIDS Review will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Santa Rosa on Saturday, March 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. State and local HIV/AIDS experts will cover current issues in HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis C, and other topics. The conference, worth 5 hours of Category 1 credit, costs just $45. To register, call 707-527-6223.


The Institute for Medical Quality is sponsoring a training program for physician leaders on Coronado Island from March 8 to 10. Participants will explore solutions and creative approaches to resolving problems encountered in leading a medical staff. To register, visit or contact Leslie Iacopi at 415-882-5167 or


The American Medical Association has made several new resources available to physicians. The Practice Management Center at educational tutorials available at can help physicians better implement health information technology. Finally, a Team Up To Stay Healthy brochure available at can help seniors receive preventive services covered by Medicare. offers easy access to tools and guidance for enhancing the operation of a medical practice. Three


Danny Arzanipour, MD, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation*, 500 Doyle Park Dr. #G04, Santa Rosa 95405, 303-8307, Fax 303-8362,, UC Los Angeles 2004


Mounir Belcadi, MD, Psychiatry, 1335 N. Dutton Ave., Santa Rosa 95401, 579-8703, Fax 579-8755,, Mohammed Univ 1997


Benjamin Fritz, MD, Nephrology*, 2301 Circadian Way #A, Santa Rosa 95407, 526-2027, Fax 526-2096, 126 North Orchard Ave., Ukiah 95482,, Stanford Univ 1997


Jon Jackson, MD, Psychiatry*, 1335 N. Dutton Ave., Santa Rosa 95401, 579-8703, Fax 579-8755,, Loma Linda Univ 1980


Jessica Les, MD, Family Medicine, 3569 Round Barn Cir. #200, Santa Rosa 95403, 583-8806, Fax 583-8808,, Stanford Univ 2009


Mendy Maccabee, MD, Otolaryngology*, Allergy & Immunology*, 500 Doyle Park Dr. #106A, Santa Rosa 95405, 303-8357, Fax 303-8358,, Univ Washington 1998


Elpidio Mariano, MD, Surgery*, 106 Lynch Creek Way #9B, Petaluma 94954, 763-1575, Fax 763-9172,, Univ Santo Tomas 1971


Andrew Min, MD, Pediatrics, Pediatric Hospitalist, 500 Doyle Park Dr. #100, Santa Rosa 95405, 544-6090, Fax 544-2389, Columbia Univ 2006


Aimee Newman, MD, Pediatrics*, 5900 State Farm Dr., Rohnert Park 94928, 206-3044, Fax 206-3041,, UC San Diego 2006


Ruth Ochoa, MD, Emergency Medicine*, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403, 393-4800, Fax 393-4741,, Stanford Univ 2005


Mahmoud Rashidi, MD, Neurological Surgery*, Adult & Pediatric Neurosurgery, 95 Montgomery Dr. #118, Santa Rosa 95404, 545-7175, Fax 545-7938,, Kerman Univ 1991


David Russell, MD, Surgery*, Trauma Critical Care, 500 Doyle Park Dr. #G04, Santa Rosa 95405, 303-8360, Fax 303-8361,, Albany Med Coll 2003


Melissa Strange, DO, Pediatrics, Pediatric Hospitalist, 500 Doyle Park Dr. #100, Santa Rosa 95405, 544-6090, Fax 544-2389,


Nicholas Strange, DO, Family Medicine, 24 West El Rose Dr., Petaluma 94952, 763-9891, Fax 762-2311,


Suegee Tamar-Mattis, DO, Family Medicine, 144 Stony Point Rd., Santa Rosa 95401, 521-4500, Fax 544-4626,, Touro Univ 2006


Cesar Veluz, MD, Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, 106 Lynch Creek Way #9B, Petaluma 94954, 763-1575, Fax 763-9172,, Univ Philippines 1971


Michael Yang, MD, Pain Medicine*, Anesthesiology*, 728 Mendocino Ave. , Santa Rosa 95401, 623-9803, Fax 843-3257,, UC San Francisco 2004


* = board certified; italics = special medical interest


Office space

Small suite for lease. Reception, 3 rooms, Summerfield Rd., Santa Rosa. Contact Connie, 707-525-0211.


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 Erika Goodwin at or 707-548-6491.


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.


© 2012 SCMA, 2901 Cleveland Ave. #202, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

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