leg day students-1By Alison Elsner

Today’s health care system looks dramatically different than it did even two decades ago, and, as a result, efforts are ongoing to create a quality experience for both doctor and patient.

The San Bernardino County Medical Society (SBCMS) is a professional membership organization comprised of 3000 medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, residents and medical students committed to advancing policies, protections and training that ultimately keep quality medical care affordable and accessible. SBCMS is one of 39 component medical societies of the California Medical Association (CMA), representing more than 40,000 physicians in all modes of practice and specialties encompassing the interests of California patients. Since their creation nearly 160 years ago, CMA continually advocates on a broad range of issues including public health and access to care, among others.
The Riverside County Medical Association (RCMA), is the component society that encompasses physician membership throughout the Coachella Valley while SBCMS serves the San Bernardino County region, including many areas in the high desert.
Marti Baum, M.D., pediatrician at Loma Linda University Medical Center, serves as President of SBCMS and Steven Larson, M.D., infectious diseases specialist from Riverside, was recently installed as 2015-16 President of CMA.
CMA and SBCMS represent a comprehensive program of legislative, legal, regulatory, economic and social advocacy. Programs provide members with the necessary support to establish and maintain successful medical practices, which leads directly to a higher quality of medical care with greater access for California patients.
Vital issues with which the CMA has affiliated or sponsored include:
• Participation in the Save Lives Coalition, which is currently working to pass a ballot measure to increase the tax on tobacco in California. The initiative will help save lives and prevent teens from ever becoming addicted. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in California and revenue from the initiative will be used to improve healthcare and fund research into cures for cancer and other smoking related illnesses.  CMA joins the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association in California, the American Heart Association, the California Dental Association and dozens of others as members of the Save Lives Coalition.
• Broader immunization against disease, with a new law that requires mandatory vaccinations for nearly all California schoolchildren. SB 277, authored by pediatrician and CMA member Senator/ Richard Pan, M.D., was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015.
• The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), a model for national medical liability reform. MICRA ensures compensation for patients’ injuries while setting a cap on non-economic damages, ensuring access to care, especially in rural and underserved parts of the state. In 2014, the CMA led one of the broadest coalitions in California ballot measure history in defeating Proposition 46, which would have quadrupled the cap on non-economic damages and severely limited patient access to healthcare.
• Continued advocacy to improve severely underfunded Medicare and Medicaid (Medi-Cal) programs in California. Because of budget cuts, California has one of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the country, making it difficult for physicians to take on new patients and keep their doors open. CMA works with stakeholders on this issue regularly to better fund the program.

CMA is also affiliated with the non-profit Institute for Medical Quality (IMQ), offering medical practice surveys and training and technical assistance for physicians and health care staffs. This is especially relevant in an age where new requirements are being continually brought forth, such as Meaningful Use (electronic health record technology) and mandatory coding systems.
Ancillary projects housed within SBCMS include:
Medical Reserve Corps (MRC): a medical volunteer unit created by the SBCMS and housed within the County Sheriff’s Volunteer Forces Unit that supplements the local healthcare systems during emergencies or planned events in San Bernardino County, such as fires, floods, earthquakes or terrorist attacks.
Southern California Medical Museum (SCMM): the only museum in Southern California dedicated to the collection and preservation of medical artifacts and the history of medicine in Southern California and the West. The Museum is located on the campus of Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California.
SBCMS was founded in 1878 and is the sixth largest county medical society in California. The mission of SBCMS is to promote the science and art of medicine, the care and well-being of patients, the protection of the public health and to promote the betterment of the medical profession.
For more information, please visit www.sbcms.org or www.facebook.com/ SanBernardinoCountyMedicalSociety or contact Alison Elsner, executive director, at aelsner@sbcms.org or 760-413-5053.