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Governor's Newsletter, Summer 2002

Chester Choi, MD, FACP
Governor, Southern California Region I

From the Governor

Greetings. I have a few new updates including news of our Regional Meeting, a report from Washington Leadership Day this past May, announcements of our Chapter's Student Internist Award Winners and Faculty Honorees, and news from the California Chapter. Of course, I also have a plea for your assistance in some of our legislative educational efforts as well.

Summer Regional Meeting

With the recent fire storms in Southern California and other parts of the West marking the start of what is likely to be a real hot and dry summer, we'd like to invite all of our Members and Associates to "cool off" along the seashore, August 9-11, 2002, at our Regional Meeting here in Long Beach at the Westin Hotel on Ocean Boulevard. We've planned a weekend of key updates in the specialty areas of Internal Medicine (including radiology and dermatology for the internist) in conjunction with Region 2 (Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties). We'll have a variety of workshops (cardiac auscultation, pain management, geriatrics, joint injection/aspiration, and others), poster competitions, and health and public policy updates. Joseph Silva, MD, FACP, Regent, Dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine will be our College Representative, and State Assemblyman Keith Richman, MD and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (invited) will join Jack Lewin, MD from the CMA and Bob Doherty from ACP-ASIM's Washington Office for Health and Public Policy Updates and discussions. For additional information, please look at our earlier mailing, or contact our Chapter staff person Ericka Cunningham at ecunningham@chw.edu or (562)491-9350.

I know you'll want to be at all of the scientific sessions, but for families or friends with some free time, the Aquarium of the Pacific features an impressive jellyfish exhibit, the ever-popular sea otters and lorikeet exhibits, and a new shark display, and is just a short walk or free shuttle ride from the Westin Hotel. If anyone is interested in a "behind the scenes" tour of the aquarium, I believe that can be arranged. There are also a variety of shops and restaurants on Pine Avenue and the Terrace Theater and Convention Center are just across the street from the hotel. A short shuttle ride could also take you to the Museum of Latin American Art or the Long Beach Art Museum.

Washington Leadership Day

On May 21 and 22, 2002, three key representatives from our region joined over 125 other ACP-ASIM members in Washington, DC to visit and educate our Congressional leaders on the state of health care in the US. Congressman Michael Bilirakis (his son is an ACP-ASIM member) addressed our group and gave a somewhat disheartening summary of current congressional issues. Kouichi Tanaka, MD, MACP, Scott Ragland, and I joined with 8 other California members under the direction of Jeremiah Tilles, MD, MACP, the Chair of California's Health and Public Policy Committee to put forth our ideas on the Medicare fee reductions, regulatory reform, and prescription drug benefit, and the additional issues of access to care, bioterrorism preparation, the patient bill of rights, and funding for the VA, Title VII and VIII grants, and the Agency for Heatlhcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It was a very full agenda and a busy schedule of congressional visits, and it was a bit spooky to proceed through the increased security at the Capitol and to access the buildings, which may still be tainted with anthrax. Overall, most of the legislative analysts we met with were receptive and supportive of our positions, but the political roadblocks to action seem especially prominent this year (probably because it is an election year). I would encourage all of our members to examine these issues for themselves (information is available on the ACP-ASIM website.) You can also find information to contact your representative to express your feelings and wishes by visiting www.acponline.org/lac. The unfairness of the Medicare fee reductions were particularly bothersome to many of us, even those who are not dependent upon Medicare fees for their own incomes. With the extent of the reductions and the impact on physicians with large Medicare patient populations, this issue may very well express itself as an additional access to care concern, since there may be fewer and fewer physicians willing to accept these markedly reduced Medicare rates as they become fully implemented.

Student Internist Awards

Annually, our Chapter recognizes and honors an outstanding graduating student entering the field of Internal Medicine at each of the medical schools in our region. In addition, we provide the award in the name of an outstanding faculty member at the school. This year, the award winners and honorees were Brian Wong and Phyllis Guze, MD, FACP at UCLA and Spencer Robert Adams and John Leedom, MD, FACP at USC. Both Dr. Adams and Dr. Wong (a graduate of the Drew-UCLA program) are now residents at UCLA. At UCLA, the awards were presented at the Solomon Scholars Research Presentations, a day of research and clinical vignette presentations with participation by a large number of students, residents fellows, and faculty from throughout the UCLA system. It was coordinated by Robert Strieter, MD and Jan Tillisch, MD. David Solomon, MD, MACP was honored as the inspiration for the research day and recognized as the ACP-ASIM's John Phillips Award Winner for Outstanding Work in Clinical Medicine. At USC, the presentation of the awards occurred at the Senior Awards and Honors Reception on the school's Quad.

In addition, this year our Chapter initiated the first such student internist award at the College of Osteopathic Medicine/Western University in Pomona. The award winner at that school was Karen Shainsky who began her residency at LAC-USC last month. I would like to thank James Louie, MD, FACP, a 2001 Chapter Laureate Award Winner, who coordinated these awards. A special thank you also goes to J. Michael Finley, the Chair of Medicine at COMP/Western University for his special efforts with the award at that institution.

California Chapter News

The California Chapter helps to coordinate the health and public policy activities and the medical services efforts for our state's regions. Doug Hegstad, MD, FACP from Region 2 has been the President of the Chapter, but recently passed the reins on to Glenn Littenberg, MD, FACP from our own Region 1. Glenn is a gastroenterologist in the Pasadena area and has been coordinating our medical services efforts. He has been active in the leadership of the California Medical Association and was a leader in the ASIM prior to the merger with the ACP. Glenn has already been busy with issues such as AB1950, which proposes to make public the names of physicians with malpractice actions and a pending decision of the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) to identify HIV specialists for insurance and health plan definitions. The latter is controversial since the DMHC proposes definitions based on no evidence and recognizes an unsubstantiated examination promulgated by an advocacy group while seemingly minimizing the role of the ABIM subspecialty examination in Infectious Diseases. Congratulations to Glenn on his election as President of the California Chapter and special thanks for his efforts!

The All-California Scientific and Business Meetings will be held this November 1-3, 2002 in Monterey. The planning committee, under the direction of Molly Cooke, MD, FACP, is emphasizing clinical topics including pain management and end of life issues. Barbara Schuster, MD, MACP, Regent of the ACP-ASIM, will be the College Representative. Notices will be mailed in the near future.

PIER-Physicians' information & education resource

The ACP-ASIM has developed an evidence-based practice resource called PIER (Physicians' Information and Education Resource). It is intended as a rapid, point-of-care, up-to-date guide for busy clinicians. A number of modules are currently available (the COPD one was just posted) and the information is categorized into different areas including diseases, screening and prevention, complementary and alternative medicine, ethical and legal issues, and procedures. For members and associates, the program is currently an included benefit (free with membership). If you've been considering other, similar, up-to-date programs, you should take a look at PIER.

Annual Session

Remember to block out your calendars and to put in your early registration for Annual Session 2003, April 3-5, 2003, in San Diego at the Convention Center. The information should have been mailed to you, but you can also access it via the ACP-ASIM website.