What's Up in California?

On April 29th the California Chiropractic Association sent out an email to all members, and other interested individuals and organizations. It concerns what they had discovered when lobbied to have the chiropractic profession be able to perform sports physicals within the state.

SYNOPSIS OF ISSUE

The CCA, had apparently significantly lobbied to have AB 1992 to pass out of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. 9 votes were needed to be successful. Despite significant efforts by the CCA, only 4 votes were cast in favor thereby failing to have this bill moved as desired.

What the CCA found out was enlightening.

One week before the hearing, representatives of the CCA were told that Assembly Member Rudy Salas, Chair of the Assembly Business & Professions Committee indicated that the California Medical Association (CMA) wanted to discuss amendments to our bill.

The day the author’s office received said amendments from committee staff (just days before the hearing) the committee consultant called to say don’t bother looking at them because the Chair opposes the bill and won’t offer any amendments. The CMA then canceled the meeting with the CCA to discuss the proposed amendments.

At that point it was crystal clear the Chair was working with CMA to kill the bill. Assembly Member Rudy Salas is new to the job and not only opposed the bill, but also recommended all 10 Democrats to vote “no”. Sadly, committee staff analyzing the bill could not produce a cogent argument why anyone should oppose the bill.

According to the email from the CCA, the CMA told so many lies to the Chair, members and staff. They listed the following:

    Lie #1 Chiropractors are not allowed to diagnose under existing law.

    Lie #2 Chiropractors can only treat the neck and back.

    Lie #3 Chiropractors don’t know anything about the heart.

    Lie #4 Chiropractors aren’t qualified to examine the heart.

    Lie #5 Chiropractors aren’t qualified to perform these physicals.

    Lie #6 The Chair offered us amendments we refused to take.

All of the above apparently false, however the end result was that AB 1992 did not make it out of committee.

The CCA reports that none of them were surprised the CMA was lying to all these people. What did surprise them was the Chair proffering these untruths from the dais in Committee as reasons to oppose the bill.

He did this after Dr. Heidi Crocker from Southern California University of Health Sciences laid out the rigors of our college curriculum; after Dr. Sergio Azzolino extensively laid out our scope of practice and BCE’s responsibilities as our regulatory body; and after Dr. Joseph Leahy expounded on the extensive role of chiropractic in the NFL. The Chair simply ignored every fact presented.

The CCA reports it became exceedingly clear to all who were present that the Chair was desperately trying to provide the lamest of excuses for his caucus colleagues on the Committee to vote no with him. Keep in mind, colleagues hate to vote against a Chair’s recommendation. It’s a major embarrassment to the Chair and simply not done.

Dr. Azzolino REPEATEDLY shot down the untruths to the point the Chair looked disoriented at times according to the email from the CCA. It was abundantly clear the Committee members were impressed with the witnesses, their testimony and the veracity of that testimony.

The author, Assembly Member Brian Jones, became increasingly displeased with the Chair’s willingness to ignore the facts and his hostile comportment. So much so the CCA reported that in his closing arguments, Assembly Member Jones referenced that the Committee was obviously making a political, not a policy decision on the bill.

In addition, Assembly Member Jones told the Committee that in the past they’d always shown respect and deference to CMA’s arguments. However, after this hearing they should no longer do so - he certainly wasn’t going to. In effect, Assembly Member Jones put CMA on notice that they had lost credibility with him, and the Committee members should feel likewise.

At this point, the vote was taken. As was stated before, the final vote was 4 aye and 9 no votes with 3 abstentions. 9 affirmative votes was needed to move this bill out of committee.

When Assembly Member Jones asked for reconsideration of the bill (which would theoretically allow another vote on the bill, but no testimony, at the next hearing), a simple courtesy never denied, the Chair refused. It had to be forced into a vote on the motion. Democratic legislators began taking umbrage with the Chair’s hostility over a courtesy all members expect to receive.

How does this relate to DOT physical might you ask? If you pay attention to the arguments made by the California Medical Association to the Chair of the Committee, it mirrors the New York model referred to by Natalie Hartenbaum, and the physician at the MEDMAC committee meeting.

If a chiropractor is not capable of performing a sports physical due to the reasons listed, could it be that a change of opinion concerning a chiropractor performing a DOT physical is possible. As mentioned before, if it is possible in New York, it is possible in other states also.

IS CALIFORNIA NEXT?

ARE OTHER STATES MEDICAL ASSOCIATIONS LOOKING INTO USING THE “NEW YORK MODEL” TO EFFECT OUR ABILITY TO PERFORM DOT PHYSICALS (or any other services such as a sports physical) PRESENTLY?

It appears that this is moving faster than we originally thought.

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