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California’s Climate Change: Single-Payer

June 7, 2017

By Stuart A. Bussey, MD, JD, UAPD President

Two seemingly unconnected events last Thursday remind us that we live in a progressive, independent-minded state. First, the California Senate passed SB 562 (Lara/D), the Healthy California single-payer bill. This bill purports to solve our state’s health care access problem, which has been partially relieved by the ACA and is now threatened by the new AHCA bill. The California Assembly is preparing for the weighty debate on how exactly to pay for SB 562’s universal coverage. Cost estimates range from $330 billion/year (UMass study) to $400 billion/year (legislative analysis). These figures are comparable to the 2016 estimate of California’s health care cost of $370 billion. Much of this money would be available as repurposed Medicare and Medi-Cal money — and the Feds would have to agree. The State, under Healthy California, would take on the role of single insurer. The plan would be governed by a nine member board of experts who would authorize payments to hospitals, doctors, ancillaries and pharmaceutical firms in a hybridized and collectively bargained fee-for-service paradigm. The collective bargaining part of the bill could elevate UAPD as a preeminent representative of many of California’s providers. Physicians probably would be working at discounted rates of reimbursements, but they would at least be paid promptly and by one entity (the State). They would not have to play tiresome reimbursement and authorization games with dozens of profit-motivated insurance companies. Doctors should spend less time billing and more time with their patients.
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UAPD Files Charges Against State Hospitals

May 10, 2017

Several months ago, Napa State Hospital management distributed a memorandum to the medical staff stating that they had decided to utilize the Personal Duress Alarm System (PDAS) as the primary method to contact physicians, because management had determined that the hospital’s pager system was unreliable. UAPD was staunchly opposed to this new policy.

After Psych Tech Donna Gross was murdered by a patient on NSH grounds in 2010, enormous efforts went towards winning a host of safety improvements at the State hospitals.  That work continues to the present. The PDAS is a state-of-the-art system chosen, developed, and continuously refined with employee input.  At no time did the state legislature, Cal-OSHA, Coalition unions, or the DSH contemplate any use for PDAS except as a personal alarm. And, as PDAS’s sole purpose is to alert all staff in the vicinity of an emergency request for help due to attack, the system has the potential to save lives. Diverting its use for any other purpose undermines the system’s effectiveness. Nevertheless, recognizing that the hospital’s current pager system indeed is not reliable, the UAPD agreed to meet with DSH in order to negotiate implementation of the new policy.
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CSU Bargaining Off to Good Start

May 10, 2017

Last week UAPD and CSU starting formal bargaining over terms and conditions of employment for our members in Unit 1.  UAPD and the bargaining team are optimistic about this round of bargaining.  After a State audit revealed unnecessary spending, and news articles publicized cuts in student services at the same time as the student fees were raised at some campuses, CSU has come into bargaining with an understanding that change is needed.

CSU is taking a proactive approach in addressing the issues around recruitment and retention.  They have been meeting with the UAPD Bargaining Team for the past year to establish new classifications, which will allow campuses to hire needed employees at a more competitive salary.  UAPD and CSU have tentatively agreed to two new classifications and some revisions to the original physician classification.  The team is still negotiating the salary ranges for each classification, as well as the implementation and the reclassification of the current unit members.   UAPD will communicate that information with the membership as soon as it becomes finalized.  
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Ending the CDCR Psychiatrist Staffing Crisis

May 3, 2017

Rosen, Bien, Galvan and Grunfeld, LLP is a legal firm that represents the plaintiffs in Coleman v Brown, which addresses mental health care in California prisons.  The original judge in the case ordered that a Special Master be appointed to monitor compliance with the court orders to improve care.  The current Special Master is Matthew A. Lopes, Jr..

In recent weeks, UAPD has been working closely with Michael Bien and others at the firm.  Together we are trying to persuade the Special Master and the Court that there is a severe psychiatrist shortage within CDCR, and that the State is doing too little to correct it.  UAPD has provided the attorneys with data and physician testimony that they will share with the Court (with names redacted).  You can download a copy of the letter provided by UAPD to the attorneys here.   UAPD will update members on the progress of the case.

If you would like to provide further information that UAPD will share with the Plaintiffs’ Attorneys, you can do that here:  CDCR PSYCHIATRIST STAFFING ISSUES

State Contract Goes into Effect

May 3, 2017

Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 131, the bill containing the UAPD contract for State Bargaining Unit 16.  Now that the UAPD contract has been approved by membership, the Legislature, and the Governor, it will be in effect now through July 1, 2020. 

All pay increases in the new contract are effective starting May 1, 2017.  Payroll implementation is expected to take several months.  Once the State completes the payroll implementation process, all doctors will receive payments retroactive to May 1, 2017. 

You can read the summary of the entire agreement here.  You can download the summary of the economic agreements here.

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