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Posted on 04-28-2016

CMA and Other Expletives

This week’s Corner is dedicated solely to AB 1992, which as you may know, did NOT pass out of Assembly Business and Professions committee this week.  The final vote was 4 aye and 9 no votes with 3 abstentions. We needed a total of 9 votes to pass the committee.

Normally, I wouldn’t dedicate an entire Corner to one bill, but the hearing revealed and covered a wide variety of subjects vital to the condition of chiropractic in the political arena that bears an in depth analysis.

AB 1992 Lobbying Actions Prior To the Hearing

First let’s take a look at your lobbying operation.  CCA’s GA team launched the following:

  • Retail lobbying for three months.  This means Monica and I have been repeatedly meeting with the legislative staff of 16 committee members, committee staff, committee members, and our fabulous author (Assemblyman Brian Jones).
  • A bevy of killer lobbying materials.  If you didn’t get a chance to check them out.
  • AB 1992 advertisement produced by a professional political consulting firm, which ran in two inside-the-beltway political blogs/ newsletters for four weeks.  If you didn’t get a chance, take a look.
  • Expert and credible witnesses to testify at the hearing:

Dr. Sergio Azzolino

Chair - Board of Chiropractic Examiners

Dr. Heidi Crocker

 Faculty - SCUHS

Dr. Joseph Leahy

San Francisco 49rs 

  • Calls to action through our Constant Contact, Voter Voice and social media platforms that produced 259 letters of support sent to legislators. Thank you all!
  • Personal lobbying by Key Doctors of committee members in their districts.
  • Lobbying by the author of every member of the committee and the Chair numerous times.

That’s a strong and comprehensive action plan.  It did not produce the nine votes we needed to pass the bill. 

So if we did such a great job why the hell didn’t we get the nine votes we needed?  This is where the story gets interesting.

Assembly Member Rudy Salas, Chair Of The Business & Professions Committee, Recommends A NO Vote on AB 1992

Now, let’s review the events that transpired leading up to the hearing.

One week before the hearing, Monica and I were told that Assembly Member Rudy Salas,  Chair of the Assembly Business & Professions Committee and 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.  CMA canceled the meeting with Monica and myself to discuss amendments.

At this point it was crystal clear the Chair was working with CMA to kill our 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.

CMA told so many lies to the Chair, members and staff that’s it hard to know where to start, so I’ll list a few of them:

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.

How It Went Down At The AB 1992 Hearing

Dr. Leahy and Dr. Azzolino Discuss Strategy

Now none are surprised the CMA was lying to all these people.  What did surprise us 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.

It became exceedingly clear 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 and Dr. Leahy Wait To Testify

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

Our author, Assembly Member Brian Jones, became increasingly displeased with the Chair’s willingness to ignore the facts and his hostile comportment.  So much so 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 I stated before, the final vote was 4 aye and 9 no votes with 3 abstentions.

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.

So What Happens Now?

  • We expect the Minority Leader in the Assembly, Assembly Member Chad Mayes, will be talking to the Speaker of the Assembly about the Chair’s actions.
  • We are working with Assembly Member Jones on options that could allow the bill to resurface this year.
  • We’re ascertaining if Assembly Member Salas, in his capacity as Chair of the Assembly Business & Professions Committee, intends to kill all chiropractic bills for CMA or if this is a one-time “favor” to them.  If it’s not a one-time favor, we will implement options to address that reality.
  • Although AB 1992 was killed in Committee, it provided us broader reaching “wins”. It produced a successful platform for us to educate a large number of staff and legislators about chiropractic and our qualifications as health care providers. And by virtue, it produced a new cadre of staff and legislators that are now aware of our vast qualifications as health care providers. This essential education is THE major and critical mission for the GA team and chiropractic.  This opportunity would not have existed if we didn’t introduce legislation thereby creating a platform to educate the ignorant.
  • CMA credibility has been called into question publicly by a legislator for the first time in my political lifetime.

This is a lot to digest, and CMA has been a one trick pony recently, simply swinging their political stick and eschewing any effort to argue public policy.  The end of this story remains unwritten.  Please keep in mind, in the past I’ve sent the same piece of legislation to a governor four consecutive years and been vetoed four times.  The fifth time it became the law of the land.

I know Einstein said doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, but in the world of politics tenacity produces results and when coupled with innovation it will speed up production of positive results for chiropractic in California.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print, and some that probably isn’t…for now.

©2016 California Chiropractic Association. All rights reserved. Please do not disseminate in part or whole without prior permission. Questions or permission to disseminate? Contact Cris Forsyth at cforsyth@calchiro.org.

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