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Legislative Advocacy

Preventing Gun Deaths Through Data and Research

March 4, 2016

UAPD has sponsored a new bill to address the public health crisis posed by gun violence.  With UAPD’s support, Senator Richard Pan, M.D., has introduced SB 877, a bill requiring the state to establish and maintain a data-tracking system on violent deaths in the state, including gun deaths.

According to a press release from Senator Pan:

SB 877 is sponsored by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists and would require the Department of Public Health to establish and maintain a system for collecting data on violent deaths in the state and allow the Department to apply for grant funding for the program.  Specifically, CDPH would contract with counties to collect data on violent deaths from various sources, including death certificates, law enforcement agencies, and coroners. Such data would be used to assess the magnitude of the problem, trends, and characteristics of violent deaths and would be used to assist policy makers and communities as they determine appropriate prevention and education efforts.

Researchers point to the difference in how guns and vehicle fatalities are tracked to demonstrate how we can better prevent gun deaths through data and research.  Guns are now killing just as many Americans as cars, yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started a national database in 1975 called the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) which holds detailed datasets for every car death in the nation. By contrast, a unified and complete database for gun deaths is virtually non-existent.  The NVDRS is voluntary and receives no data or incomplete data from many states including California.

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More Political Victories for UAPD

July 6, 2015

Recently in Sacramento, the Union had two big victories on issues important to a majority of our membership.

First off, SB 277, the bill introduced by UAPD Member Richard Pan to limit the types of vaccination exemptions, was signed into law.  In his signing message, Governor Brown wrote “The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases. While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”  Those same sentiments were conveyed by the majority of the doctors who answered our recent UAPD political survey. 74% of you supported SB 277, our survey showed.  UAPD was proud to sponsor the bill and lobby for its passage.

A majority of you also want the union to work against bills that expand the scope of practice for Nurse Practitioners.  76% of you opposed SB 323, the bill to grant full practice authority for NPs.  Today that bill failed in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee.  While it will have a courtesy reconsideration, for all intents and purposes the bill is now dead.  We know that Nurse Practitioners play a critical role in the healthcare system, but our survey showed that most of us believe that medical school training makes doctors better suited for some tasks. That was the crux of the testimony UAPD gave in committee last week as well.

When you have a moment, you can to explore the political survey results more thoroughly.  Some of the results are not surprising. At our most recent CME class in San Francisco,  it was plain to see that members are not in agreement when it comes to doctor-hastened death. However, it’s interesting that most of our members opposed recreational marijuana use, even though a majority of Americans now favor it.

A group as large and well-educated as UAPD will never be of one mind on any issue.  But we will continue to identify points of common interest and develop a legislative agenda around those issues.  And as this last week has shown us, when we take on a political issue, we can get things done.

Read more about: Featured, Legislative Advocacy

UAPD Sweeps Political Races

November 14, 2014

UAPD, along with other unions in the state, helped propel several of our own UAPD members to important wins in the recent California and US elections.  Richard Pan, M.D., a pediatrician, won a Senate seat in the 6th District (Sacramento).  Jim Woods, DDS, a private practice dentist, won an Assembly seat in the 2nd District (North Coast), and Ami Bera, M.D., narrowly won a US House seat for the second time in the  7th Congressional  District (Elk Grove).  UAPD also supported San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu, who won a narrow victory for an Assembly seat in the 17th District.  Two labor-friendly candidates – Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl – both won seats on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors with UAPD’s help.  Finally, UAPD was heartened by the defeat of Propositions 45 and 46, both of which would have had ill effects on doctors.  In the case of Prop 46, the threat of higher medical costs and draconian drug testing regulations for doctors seemed to turn off voters from across the political spectrum.

Bills for the next legislative session are being conceptualized and drafted now, with a deadlines of January 30th for introduction to the Office of Legislative Counsel (for bill analysis) and February 27th for introduction to the California Legislature.  Members can contact Doug Chiappetta, Director of Legislative and Political Affairs, with ideas for new bills.

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Anti-MICRA Ballot Measure Qualifies for November Ballot

May 22, 2014

The anti-MICRA ballot measure has officially qualified for the November 2014 ballot.  Drafted by trial lawyers, the ballot measure is seeking to change current law to file more medical lawsuits against health care providers.  If they get their way, medical lawsuits, payouts, and insurance premiums will skyrocket.  Some doctors will be driven out of the profession by high costs, leaving more people without access to care.

UAPD is part of a campaign is geared up to defeat this misguided and costly measure. As part of CAPP, UAPD has been building the capacity to defeat this dangerous initiative for the better part of a year.  If you haven’t already, you can sign up directly with the campaign committee formed specifically to fight this initiative here.

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Delegates Inspire More Contributions to PEOPLE Fund

March 30, 2014

UAPD members elected six delegates (Stuart A. Bussey, M.D., J.D., Ernest W. Fessler, D.D.S., Ronald Lewis, M.D., L. Lee Nelson, M.D., Alice Faye Singleton, M.D., and Robert W. Starr, D.D.S.) to attend the AFSCME PEOPLE Convention in Sacramento in mid-March.  The PEOPLE program is the lobbying and political fundraising apparatus of AFSCME, the international union with which UAPD is affiliated; their convention is held every year in California.

At this year’s convention, the delegates heard from AFSCME President Lee Saunders and many others about the political challenges that public employees will face in the coming year.  It probably comes as no surprise that public workers continue to be scapegoated and that retirement benefits are still under attack.  Having learned that UAPD was lagging behind in the number of people who contribute to the AFCME PEOPLE fund, the delegates sent a letter to members encouraging them to support the program.  More than 50 doctors responded by becoming PEOPLE contributors at the MVP level, a very strong response.  Those interested in signing up as PEOPLE MVPs can still contact the UAPD Oakland office (1-800-622-0909).

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New Law Makes It Easier to Spot and Stop Contracting Out

December 19, 2013

One of the challenges unions face in trying to prevent the misuse of private contractors by the State of California is the fact that departments often sign new contracts before the union is made aware of the fact.  A new bill that was signed into law by the Governor, AB 906, fixes that problem, as it requires departments to notify the relevant unions before they sign a new contract for personal services.  The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who is a member of UAPD, and supported by both UAPD and AFSCME.  This was one of two UAPD-backed bills to address the problem of private contracting during the last legislative session, both of which were signed into law.  The other contractor bill was AB 1008, which prevented Alameda Health Services (AHS) from outsourcing work now done by UAPD-represented physicians (see p. 3).

Reed’s Pension Initiative Undermines Concept of Vesting

November 27, 2013

On November 12, 2013 San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and four other California mayors filed initial paperwork for a dangerous initiative called the “The Pension Reform Act of 2014.” If the initiative qualifies for the ballot and if it is passed by California voters, it would amend the state constitution to do away with the “vested rights doctrine” that currently protects the pensions of millions of public sector workers, including UAPD members.  If passed, the new initiative would give public employers the ability to change the pension formulas for current employees, not just future hires.   Though they would still owe current employees a retirement benefit based on what they’ve earned to date, moving forward public employers would be able to “modify, freeze, or terminate” those benefits.   In other words, the initiative is the most serious attack on pensions to date.  Reed and his supporters are trying to collect 800,000 signatures by June to place the initiative on the November 2014 ballot.

UAPD is part of a coalition that is gearing up to fight Reed’s pension-killing initiative.  We are already raising funds and preparing a strategy to get the word out to California voters.  But it’s not too early to start talking to your friends and family about why they should oppose this initiative, first by refusing to sign the petition, and, if it comes to the ballot, by voting no on the measure.
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Private Practice Insights: The MICRA Showdown

November 20, 2013

By Stuart A. Bussey, M.D., J.D., UAPD President

As the showdown for the latest cycle of tort reform heads for the California legislature and the ballot box in 2014, it’s time to review the arguments of both sides.  More importantly, it’s time to offer some possible solutions to the problem.  Trial attorneys want to protect patients against “negligent” physicians, while we physicians counter that we are trying to protect patients from indirectly bearing the costs of malpractice premiums.

California’s 1975 MICRA law, spearheaded by UAPD and the CMA, set a cap of $250,000 for a patient’s “noneconomic” damages (pain and suffering).  That’s good for keeping doctor’s malpractice premiums at a reasonable level.  There is no ceiling for economic losses of the patient.  That’s good for the patient who has legitimately had his livelihood impaired by provider negligence.  MICRA has kept malpractice premiums in check for years, but now trial attorneys are asking to raise the cap on noneconomic damages to $1.2 million or more.  We strongly support maintaining the $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.
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Bilbrey Elected to CalPERS Board

October 29, 2013

California School Employees Association (CSEA) President Michael Bilbrey has been reelected to the CalPERS Board of Administration.  With Bilbrey, public employees will continue to have the voice of a public sector worker on the board.

Read more about Candidate Michael Bilbrey

UAPD Sponsored Bill Prevents Outsourcing

September 19, 2013

AB 1008, a bill to prevent the unnecessary outsourcing of doctor jobs in the fast-growing Alameda Health System (AHS) (formerly known as the Alameda County Medical Center) has been signed into law.  AB 1008 was initially co-sponsored by UAPD and AFSCME, and authored by Assembly Members Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland).

In recent months, AHS considered employing doctors through a separate foundation not covered by the UAPD agreement.  The new law closes a loophole in the California code that allowed hospital authorities (like the one that runs AHS) greater leeway for employing contractors than other government agencies have.  Last week’s passage of AB 1008 means the jobs and the contract of UAPD doctors are now safe.

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