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Message from the CMS President

Healthcare Politics

AS THE year closes, please plan now to attend the Chicago Medical Society’s Annual Holiday Reception on Dec. 6. We welcome all physicians and their guests along with business associates. You’ll find good cheer and calm after the midterm elections. (Check page 28 for details.) It’s also a way for us to thank you for your ongoing support.

Even as political landscapes and alignments shift, the Chicago Medical Society’s work never ends. We know that healthcare concerns drove many voters to the polls. And already, we’re shaping the conversations around healthcare delivery. Given that both parties want to win in 2020, there are a few areas where we might see bipartisanship:
• Prescription drug price gouging. Your Chicago Medical Society has brought great visibility to cost spikes and other abuses. Working with lawmakers, we’ve partnered on bills to create transparency and require drug makers to justify steep price increases. We’ve also advocated for direct government negotiation of Medicare drug costs. There’s also support for requiring makers of brand-name drugs to offer samples to generic drug companies trying to develop inexpensive copies of those medicines.
• Limits on association-based and short-term health plans.
• Increased funding for programs authorized by opioid-related legislation.
• Funding for Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments and community health centers.

While physician workforce expansion isn’t always a top priority for legislators, it is for the Chicago Medical Society. With each new Congress we must slowly build political will for new funding of graduate medical education.

As you know, a few universities made news for announcing they would waive tuition costs for students who agree to serve in shortage areas once they finish their education and training. The factors behind soaring tuition costs are now the focus of a CMS study.

On the practice front, a CMS measure calls for national legislation to end the burden of pursuing health plan deductibles. It should not be the physician’s responsibility to recoup patient out-of-pocket costs and deductibles when the deductible is created by the insurance company in their contract, and when payment is determined by the health plan’s reimbursement formula.

As 2019 unfolds, CMS will be educating the physician community how to expand their participation in value-based care and risk-bearing delivery models. We also plan to keep an eye on changing regulations around opioids.

Politics and medicine are deeply intertwined. Policy decisions directly impact the way we practice medicine. Regardless of where you stand politically, physicians play a role on legislation important to their profession.

Your Chicago Medical Society is preparing to work with newly elected leadership. Now is the time to share your priorities and ideas for how we can move forward in the coming year.

Vemuri S. Murthy, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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