CAP Legislative Advocacy: A Year in Review

As a physician-led organization, CAP is committed to staying one step ahead of emerging healthcare-related regulatory and policy changes and defending a physician’s ability to provide quality patient care and run a viable practice. This past year, CAP had the opportunity to convey its position on a number of critical issues on behalf of its nearly 13,000 physician members.

When Assembly Bill 35 (AB 35) was introduced in the spring of 2022, CAP took immediate action to raise awareness around the potential legislation. AB 35 would significantly increase the $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages (pain and suffering), create additional caps for noneconomic damages, and substantially increase the attorneys' fees recoverable in medical malpractice lawsuits. These changes fundamentally alter the important limits and protections previously afforded under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA).

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Even though AB 35 later passed, CAP successfully mobilized more than 1,300 physicians to contact their state senator and/or assemblymember to express opposition to the bill, a significant response and a powerful testament to the willingness of CAP members to participate.

In addition to CAP’s efforts around AB 35, there were other occasions in 2022 where CAP’s public affairs team advocated on issues important to our members. Here are some highlights:

• December 2021: CAP issued a formal position letter to Secretary Xavier Becerra of the Department of Health and Human Services advocating against the burdensome requirements placed on providers in the Surprise Billing Interim Final Rule.

• February 2022: CAP banded together with other members of the Health Coalition on Liability and Access in a letter to the Chairs of the Congressional Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to comment on the discussion draft of
the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT).

• March 2022: CAP sent a position letter to state Senator Melissa Hurtado in opposition to her bill SB 920 that would have significantly overhauled how the Medical Board of California conducts investigations into complaints filed against physicians. This bill would have authorized the Medical Board to legally use alternate avenues to obtain confidential medical records, weakening patient privacy rights. The bill proposal was defeated.

• November 2022: CAP sent a letter to every member of the California delegation of the House of Representatives regarding the severe proposed cuts in Medicare reimbursement for Calendar Year 2023 in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. There is a high likelihood that by the time this article is published, Congress will have passed language during the ˝lame duck˝ session in December to avoid or reduce some of the more drastic reduction percentages in reimbursement.

To view the letters submitted by CAP, please visit: www.CAPphysicians.com/Letters22

As we look ahead to 2023 and beyond, with the support and participation of our physician members, CAP is well-positioned to continue having a solid and active influence over issues impacting healthcare delivery, the viability of independent medical practices, and patient access to care.

Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government and External Affairs Analyst. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to GVillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.