Group of doctors representing the California Medical Association.

CA’s Top Medical Group Accused of Failing To Discipline Some Doctors

The California Medical Association (CMA), which licenses and disciplines doctors in the state, is being criticized by state lawmakers and patient advocates for failing to hold negligent doctors accountable for their behavior, InsuranceJournal.com reported. 

Critics of the board, which is composed of eight physicians and seven members of the public, have alleged that the CMA has allowed some doctors who have committed wrongdoing to keep their licenses.

Previous efforts to overhaul the CMA by state legislators have failed. A bill introduced earlier this year to provide the board with increased funding and power to investigate malfeasances such as sexual misconduct, fraud and gross negligence, is being stymied by “the most politically potent forces in California’s Capitol: doctors themselves.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom was criticized last fall for dining indoors without following the COVID-19 protocols he established for the state. Newsom was photographed dining with two members of the CMA, including the group’s top lobbyist. 

In May, the CMA used its influence to amend Senate Bill 806. Had SB 806 passed without any amendments, doctors would have paid a nearly 50% increase in licensing fees. The Medical Board of California relies on those fees and is in jeopardy of being insolvent, according to Insurance Journal.

The CMA also used its influence to kill a proposal that would have increased the number of non-medical public board members. Had the proposal passed, the influence of medical professionals on the board would have been diminished. 

“The strength and the power of the CMA is that they are able to deflect and obstruct the beneficial and necessary legislation to protect the consumer and to ensure the success of the medical board,” former state Senator Jerry Hill told Insurance Journal. Hill’s own attempt to overhaul the CMA was defeated four years ago.  

During the fiscal year 2019-20, the CMA received nearly 11,000 complaints. But less than 2,000 investigations were initiated. The board revoked 35 physician licenses, placed 170 doctors on probation and reprimanded 108 doctors. An additional 96 doctors surrendered their licenses. 

One board member representing the public, Eserick “TJ” Watkins, told state lawmakers that the CMA is biased towards doctors in allowing them to continue practicing medicine without facing consequences or rehabilitation. 

Patients and their families who have testified at legislative hearings describe an unresponsive and uncommunicative board that usually allows doctors accused of negligence or malpractice to continue to practice, InsuranceJournal.com stated. 

Hill, the former state Senator added, “This whole thing is part of CMA’s playbook. It’s how they operate. They hire just about every available lobbyist in Sacramento to remove the rest of what was in the bill.”

Medical malpractice and negligence aren’t limited to the state of California, of course. 

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