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Doctors Speak Out at UC Regents Meeting

Friday, March 26, 2010 General News J E 4
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OAKLAND, Calif., March 25 This morning Dr. Stuart Bussey, President of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD), and Attorney Andrew Kahn (Davis, Cowell & Bowe, LLP) presented their objections to a proposed plan to transfer responsibility for California prison inmate healthcare to the University of California (UC). They spoke for doctors during the open comment portion of today's UC Regents Meeting. The UC Regents then opted to delay the public presentation of the proposal, originally scheduled for 9:30 am.

The California Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) is circulating a report, written by Texas-based telemedicine firm NuPhysicia, that recommends transferring responsibility for California prisoner medical care to the University of California. The plan also proposes drastic cuts to number of hands-on providers within the prisons and a heavy reliance on the types of telemedicine systems that NuPhysicia sells. UC Vice President Dr. John Stobo was scheduled to present details of the NuPhysicia plan, but the Regents opted to postpone his presentation until the next meeting, citing a lack of time.

During his comments, Dr. Bussey characterized the NuPhysicia report as a sales pitch that did not back up its promises with hard data. "The report is sort of like what the pharmaceutical reps do in my office. They promise high quality and low cost, but unfortunately give biased data." As an example of the report's questionable data, Dr. Bussey referred to the part of the report that claims that "in Texas there are 24 psychiatrists taking care of the 119,000 people under the NuPhysicia system. That's a ratio of 1 in 5,000." Regarding the use of telemedicine, Dr. Bussey explained that "We don't disagree with telemedicine as an adjunct to primary care--just not as the main course."

Dr. Bussey concluded his comments by calling for "an independent study to improve prison healthcare, not a study by a company that stands to profit."

Attorney Andrew Kahn stated that adopting the proposal would likely expose the University of California to "serious legal consequences," including being named as defendant in lawsuits filed by and on behalf of inmates. "You will end up, regardless of any indemnity agreement, spending a whole lot of staff time working on the defense of those cases, which I submit UC could better spend on other endeavors," Kahn told the Regents.

The Union of American Physicians and Dentists represents the physicians, dentists, podiatrists and psychiatrists who provide healthcare within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

SOURCE Union of American Physicians and Dentists
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