Our History

The Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association (ACCMA) is a professional association of physicians who are committed to addressing health issues of concern to patients and doctors in the East Bay. Throughout its history the ACCMA has sought to improve public health, the quality of the practice of medicine and patients' access to care.  ACCMA continues its tradition of leadership today by focusing on its core mission: empowering physicians in their profession, their practices and their community.

Members of the ACCMA are extremely proud of the Association's long and distinguished record of accomplishment. Here are just some of the major accomplishments that the ACCMA has achieved on behalf of doctors and their patients. 

1895  First Woman President
Sarah I. Shuey, M.D. served as the first woman president of the ACCMA and, as near as can be determined from a nationwide survey of medical societies, she was the first president of any medical society in the nation. The second woman president was Pauline Nusbaumer, who served in 1923.

1932 Alameda County Plan
After Alameda County abolished health care clinics for low-income patients, the ACCMA created a plan under which members treated patients for reduced fees, based on the patient's ability to pay.

1936 Created Blue Cross
Striving to make medical care more affordable, the ACCMA and local hospitals formed the first medical-society created non-profit insurance company. It later became Blue Cross of California.

1945 Created Blood Bank 
Recognizing the vital need to maintain an adequate supply of blood and blood products in the East Bay, the Blood Bank of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association was established by the ACCMA.

1947 Guaranteed Medical Care for All Alameda County Citizens
The ACCMA created three related programs, all nationwide firsts:

  • The ACCMA issued a public guarantee that all patients would be treated by a member of the association, regardless of their ability to pay for care. An ACCMA medical-social consultant would interview patients to determine their ability to pay, and members would treat these patients on payment terms recommended by the medical-social consultant. This program received nationwide acclaim and media coverage.
  • Medical society "mediation committees" were created to review complaints from patients about the cost or quality of care rendered by members. If the doctor's fee was determined to be excessive, or the level of care inappropriate, recommendations would be made which members were expected to adhere to. If necessary, the committee would support the patient's position in court.
  • To assist physicians in collecting legitimate debts owed them, the ACCMA created the first medical society-owned ethical collection agency. The agency dealt exclusively in medical bill collections, and ensured that the collection process was performed in an ethical manner. If the patient disputed the debt, the matter was referred to the medical society mediation committees for resolution.

1947 Created First Professional Liability Group Insurance Program
The ACCMA created the first medical society-sponsored group professional liability insurance plan. Underwritten by a commercial insurer, the plan created committees to review professional liability claims to ensure that they were properly defended. These reviews helped to identify and minimize causes for malpractice lawsuits. Other local medical societies joined this group plan.

1952 Precursor to the RVS 
The ACCMA created the "Median Fee Plan," a statistical study of doctors' fees identifying the median fee in the community for individual physician services. The study helped health insurance companies in establishing more reasonable reimbursement policies, as well as project their costs. It also provided a guide for patients regarding the reasonableness of physicians' fees. The survey was updated annually, and in May of 1954, the California Medical Association (CMA) encouraged all its component medical societies to adopt similar plans. It served as a precursor to CMA's development of the Relative Value Scale in 1956. Insurance companies and patients applauded the program, as demonstrated in a February 10, 1955 editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle commended the ACCMA as follows: 

"We congratulate the hardy originators of this new, frank approach to the improvement of the doctor-patient relationship and wish them ultimate victory for their plan in every county in the country."

1956 Disaster Planning Leader
The ACCMA created "Disaster Planning for Medical Services," the first coordinated plan for mobilization of medical resources in natural and civil disasters, coordinated with civil defense officials. As part of this plan, the ACCMA organized the first multi-casualty airport disaster drill, conducted at Oakland International Airport.

1968 Formed First Physician Well-Being Committee 
The ACCMA established the first committee in the country to confidentially assist physicians impaired by alcoholism or other dependencies or problems.

1972 Created Retirement/Investment Plan 
The ACCMA created the first medical society-sponsored program to offer members economies of scale and security in their retirement- investment planning.

1975 Created Medical Insurance Exchange of California 
Drawing on its extensive experience from the group professional liability program started in 1947, the ACCMA responded to the "malpractice crisis" by establishing the first doctor-owned professional liability insurance company in California: Medical Insurance Exchange of California (MIEC). MIEC is considered one of the most stable and best run doctor-owned companies in the country.

1983 Created East Bay Professional Review Organization 
Seeking to ensure that utilization review services are offered in accordance with medical standards in the community and are under physician direction, the ACCMA formed the East Bay Professional Review Organization (EBPRO). The EBPRO was governed jointly by a board of hospital representatives and physicians, and effectively marketed its services to major health plans throughout the state.

1984 Formed Foundation for Medical Care 
Responding to changes in state law permitting third party payers to contract directly with physicians, the ACCMA created the Foundation for Medical Care of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association, a PPO-type organization formed to contract with insurance companies, self-insured groups and other health plans. Contrary to the philosophy expressed by many managed care programs at that time, The Foundation did not limit access to physicians and hospitals, yet it still remained competitive, and ensured appropriate physician input into medical policy and utilization review mechanisms.

1989 Formed Medical Review Committee for County Jail Health Services 
When Alameda County voted to contract with an outside agency to provide medical services to inmates in the County jail system, as a public service the ACCMA created a committee to review the quality of medical care rendered by that agency. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution commending the ACCMA for this voluntary effort.

1989 Created ACCPAC 
The ACCMA formed ACCPAC as its local political action committee to support candidates and issues who share the values of the ACCMA and its members in improving the quality of health care.

1995 Created Claremont Medical Group 
Concern about the managed care industry prompted the ACCMA to create an Independent Practice Association (IPA) to be a competitive, physician-directed managed care organization which is responsive to the needs of patients and physicians.

1996 Formed Litigation Stress Program 
The ACCMA established the Litigation Stress Program, offering physicians and spouses confidential assistance to relieve the stress associated with malpractice litigation and other investigative proceedings where a physician's competence and/or conduct is being questioned. The program was established in recognition of the tremendous adverse impact such proceedings have on the health and welfare of physicians and their families.

1995 First African-American President of the AMA
ACCMA member Lonnie Bristow, M.D. served as the first African-American president of the AMA.

1996 Created Credentials Verification Service 
The ACCMA created Credentials Verification Service (CVS) to relieve physicians and medical organizations from the onerous burdens of the credentials verification process. The goal was to centralize the process by creating one source for reliable and affordable credentials verification.

1998 Created Investment Advisory Service 
ACCMA Investment Advisors, Inc. was formed to provide investment services in a group program which offered economies of scale and reduced investment fees to assist members in reaching investment goals and planning for a comfortable retirement.

2002 Bay Area Preferred Physicians (BAPP) 
Along with eight other Bay Area Medical Societies the ACCMA helped form BAPP, a "Super Messenger Model" organization to assist members in contracting with PPOs.  Prior to implementing BAPP, we were successful in getting an opinion letter from the FTC which was favorable regarding BAPP's business plan.  It appears to be succeeding.

2004 First President of the ACCMA of Indian Origin
Vin Sawhney, M.D. was the first president of the ACCMA of Indian Origin.

2006 First President of the CMA of Indian Origin
ACCMA member Anmol Mahal, M.D. will be the first president of the CMA of Indian Origin.

2009 Helped Over 230 Members Recover More Than $12.4 Million When Medicare Stopped Paying Them
When Medicare bungled the implementation of the National Provider Identifier (NPI), the ACCMA worked diligently to ensure that Medicare expeditiously resumed payments to physicians, getting millions in payments to East Bay physicians. The ACCMA met with top officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to bring this problem to quick resolution and has become a national leader on this issue.

2009 Organized Community to Promote Advance Care Planning
Formed the Alameda-Contra Costa POLST Coalition, a coalition of community advocates for advance care planning and adoption of Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) to ensure that patients' end-of-life care wishes are honored. In 2013 the ACCMA sponsored the formation of the East Bay Conversation Project, a broad coalition of community organizations promoting discussions and understanding of advance care planning.

2013 Created ACCMA Community Health Foundation
Established 501c3 subsidiary charitable organization to facilitate ACCMA's involvement in community programs, including medical student scholarships, programs that promote and facilitate advanced care planning, and public health-related programs such as the Frank E. Staggers Sr., MD, Hypertension Project. 

2015 Launched the East Bay Safe Prescribing Coalition
The East Bay Safe Prescribing Coalition is a collaborative effort of the local medical community to promote the provision of appropriate pain management and reduce opioid misuse in the East Bay. The Coalition is co-sponsored by organizations that represent the local medical community: the ACCMA, the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, Contra Costa Health Services and the Alameda Health Consortium. These organizations serve as the steering committee for the Coalition.

2017 Launched the Berkeley Physician Leadership Program
The Berkeley Physician Leadership program is a joint effort between the ACCMA and the University of California at Berkeley to promote a physician-driven, physician-centered leadership skills development program that can help physicians better navigate the emerging health care landscape.