1. Comp fees go up—good for some
2. Annual meeting—good for all
3. Personal note—not very good but what the heck

It’s about time
The near final iteration of a new Work Comp medical-legal fee schedule was recently circulated which includes an increase in fees for those of us doing AME and QME reports. The increase comes from using a $12.50 value for each RVU of service, up from the present $10. The RVUs assigned to each service don’t change. This is a long overdue increase and well deserved considering the involved rules now in place, particularly the requirement to use the AMA Guides to calculate impairment. There is still a comment period before the schedule is published in final form and goes into effect. The other fee shoe to drop will be the new medical treatment fee schedule due out in January. A decrease in fees is anticipated as has been previously discussed in this newsletter. Look here for more information next month.

2. CANS ANNUAL MEETING: Good stuff not to miss
The annual CANS meeting in San Diego January 13-15 should be very interesting for at least three reasons. Don Prolo plans to really tweak our interest regarding forming a statewide emergency department coverage neurosurgical bargaining unit–California Emergency Neurosurgical & Trauma Services (CENTS)–exempt from anti-trust laws. Since even those of you who are getting nice stipends are at risk for a major pay cut if the California Hospital Association initiative (discussed in the November newsletter) planned for the next election passes, hearing about this option is worth the price of admission.

The second is the presence of Martha Marsh (CEO Stanford University Medical Center) speaking on the benefits Neurosurgery brings to a Hospital and Medical Center . In addition, almost all of the Neurosurgery Program Directors in California will be present to discuss the impact of these proposed changes on training and the Academic Medical Centers. You will want to hear how and if they can handle the ER crisis.

The third reason to attend is the string quartet that will perform at the banquet Saturday evening. Their program is being kept a secret but rumor has it this group is very entertaining. We shall see if they can counteract this writer’s legendary ability to catch a few post-prandial winks when listening to good music.

Contact Janine Tash (janinetash@sbcglobal.net or 916 457-2267) if you need meeting registration materials.

December doldrums
December seems to be a pretty quiet month for neurosurgical news. January should be much better what with the new Work Comp fee schedule due out and the issues addressed at the annual meeting ready for some consideration. In the meantime, this writer extends best wishes for the New Year to all who have suffered these pages with equanimity over the past year. A politically correct seasonal greeting (plagiarized from Lee Harris who sends me good chuckles from time to time) follows.

“Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.”

Randy Smith, M.D.

The newsletter is a mix of fact, rumor and opinion. The facts are hopefully clearly stated. The rest is open to interpretation. The opinion is mine. R.S.

The assistance of Janine Tash and Michael Edwards in the preparation of this newsletter is acknowledged and appreciated.