The California Medical Association and the California Society of Anesthesiologists are appealing a court decision issued last year that allows nurse anesthetists to administer anesthesia without physician supervision. In June 2009, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger got an exemption from the CMS rule that requires physicians to supervise nurse anesthetists during care of Medicare members. At least 15 other states also have this exemption. A San Francisco Superior Court judge in October denied the physician groups’ request to block the governor’s decision. The groups representing doctors argue that the exemption compromises quality of care. But the governor’s office and nurses groups say that more flexibility is needed, especially in rural areas where anesthesiologists are in short supply. “Nurses are not trained to react to the myriad potential complications that can arise in the administration of anesthesia,” said Dr. James Hinsdale, president of the California Medical Association, in a statement. “Requiring physician supervision is one important element of ensuring the best quality of care.”
The founder of Dolby Laboratories and his wife have made another multimillion-dollar donation to the University of California at San Francisco to provide additional funding for a stem cell research building on campus. Ray and Dagmar Dolby, who reside in San Francisco, donated $20 million to the cause, on top of a 2006 donation of $16 million. In honor of the gift, the new building opening Feb. 9 will be named the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regenerative Medicine Building. The building on the university’s Parnassus campus will house 25 laboratories, and is designed to foster collaboration among scientists of various disciplines. The goal is to develop new ways to treat birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries and cancer. It is the headquarters of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF, one of the largest stem-cell research programs in the country. “The possibility that stem cells could someday be used to regenerate damaged tissues, and that they already are providing insights into the way cancer develops, offers great hope for those suffering with diseases and traumatic injuries,” the Dolbys said in a statement. “We’re glad we were able to help.”
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced that three major insurers have agreed to postpone any premium rate increases for 60 days. Anthem Blue Cross of California, a WellPoint subsidiary, Aetna and UnitedHealth Group’s PacifiCare agreed to the delay beyond their effective date, according to Jones, who made the request this month after taking office. Jones said he wanted time to review 2011 rate increases for individual consumers. Jones asked Blue Shield of California do the same, but that insurer has not agreed. Instead, the health plan has hired an outside actuary to review rate increases while they proceed.