James T. Hay, M.D.
CMA is about you, me and the patients we serve. Those of us serving in leadership roles have taken new approaches this year to change CMA from an organization whose membership currently represents a minority of California physicians to one that will eventually include nearly all of us who practice here. We can only do that by listening to you better, by telling our stories better and by recognizing our human needs as well as our economic ones. Both our new website and our new approach to broader communication and a routine survey process constitute a first step. We are listening, and we will address your needs.
We have already returned over $2.7 million this year to members who sought help with insurance billing disputes. We provided members with free access to legal advice on every conceivable subject related to the practice of medicine through our medical-legal library documents. And, of course, as documented elsewhere in this report, we have continued the legislative and legal advocacy you expect. We have won many more battles than we lost, protecting MICRA, vaccine availability, Healthy Families, Every Woman Counts and, more broadly, the profession and the public health. Joining with other organizations, we also created California Public Protection and Physician Health, Inc., to reestablish a physician health program in our state and preserve patient safety by helping the doctors who need it.
No other organization can find common ground for all of us when we view issues differently because of our specialties, modes of practice, location and patient demographics. CMA created the kind of compromise that is only possible from a statewide organization when we developed a proposal to fix the geographic disparities in Medicare. We are continuing to lobby for its adoption.
Additionally, we have so far successfully blocked reductions in access to care for Medi-Cal patients with legal action at both state and federal levels. And, we came to the courageous conclusion that a prohibition-style approach to marijuana was not working. We adopted policy to legalize, regulate and control its production and distribution so we can know what our patients are using and where they are getting it. We also believe this policy will enable better research to define its benefits and harms, as we would for any other potential medicinal agent.
From CEO to receptionist, the CMA staff is amazingly dedicated to you, me and our profession. The working relationship among them, the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee has never been better. And it is all for and about you, members of the most dedicated of all professions
James T. Hay, M.D.