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BLICKER TO FIGHT FOR DOCTORS.

Byline: Sabrina Decker Staff Writer

GLENDALE - Seated on a stool as she advises a patient in a soft, modulated tone, Dr. Ilena Blicker has a bedside manner that's more like a well-informed aunt than a noted neurologist.

But get her talking about doctors' and patients' right, and the newly elected president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association becomes animated and intense.

``I went to college in the '60s, and people became very radical then,'' said Blicker, who lives and practices in Glendale. ``There are times when you have to march, but there are also times when you have to sit down and meet and talk to people to make change.''

And what Blicker hopes to change over the next year is the exodus of doctors from California and from their profession.

It takes only five minutes for Blicker to rattle off a list of troubles facing doctors: inadequate compensation for managed-care patients, HMOs influencing the quality of patient care and widespread low morale among those in the industry.

``Doctors are really not as well-respected as they used to be,'' said Blicker, 58.

LACMA - the largest arm of the California Medical Association - wants to address many of these issues, and consolidate its 6,000 diverse members to speak in one cohesive voice.

Over the next fiscal year, the 130-year old group will push for better care for uninsured residents in Los Angeles County, Blicker said. It also will propose that a health care authority be appointed to take over for the Board of Supervisors in matters concerning the overburdened county hospital system.

``Physicians should know they do have the ability to have their voices be heard,'' Blicker said. ``By becoming more politically active, they can help shape the future.''

Despite more flexibility in terms of referring patients to specialists and other improvements to managed care, doctors are still besieged with red tape and are often financially penalized for writing prescriptions, giving immunizations, and treating uninsured or Medi-Cal patients, she said.

Medical groups in the state suffer from higher-than-usual bankruptcy rates, said Blicker, who knows of 20 doctors who left California over the past decade because of financial reasons.

Many other doctors who don't leave the state or withdraw from managed- care health plans are leaving the medical profession altogether - a trend that has Blicker alarmed.

``She has on her agenda a creative and productive means for physicians to improve their situation,'' said Dr. Marcy Zwelling, an internist and critical care specialist who is secretary of LACMA. ``I think it's going to be a great year, I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully, physicians will be able to climb out of their current situation and excel.''

Blicker has spent years ascending through the ranks of LACMA, one of the largest and most well-respected groups in the medical profession.

She also is active in the Jewish community, serving as vice-president of the regional board of the Pacific Southwest Council, Union of American Hebrew Congregations and on the group's bioethics committee. She formerly was president of Temple Sinai of Glendale.

Blicker, who is also a clinical instructor in neurology at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, is also on staff at Verdugo Hills Hospital and Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Glendale neurologist Ilena Blicker, new president of the Los Angeles County Medical Society, wants to halt the exodus of doctors from the profession.

Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 11, 2001
Words:569
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