You spoke, we listened
With medicine at a crossroads, and in need of strong representation, the Chicago Medical Society answered our members’ wishes, not only for exceptional value in exchange for their dues dollars, but with opportunities for involvement, a greater voice in CMS affairs and governance. In my final message to the CMS readership, I want to each of you for your support and insightful feedback during my year as president. I leave office confident that CMS is poised to meet the forces reshaping our profession and healthcare delivery, and am grateful to have participated in the struggle for our profession.
We have numerous accomplishments to keep us moving forward:
For many of you, CMS’ most visible accomplishment is the magazine you are holding.
- We promised to build a strong publication that complements CMS’ advocacy programs. The new Chicago Medicine magazine is worthy of a city with the nation’s highest concentration of teaching institutions, 60-plus hospitals, major public health system, and thousands of group and solo practices.
- Every issue will deliver updates, tools and resources for the whole medical team, with features by respected healthcare journalists. Just as our forebears relied in 1891 on the Chicago Medical Recorder to learn about advances in general medicine, the medical community of 2012 requires a publication about medicine and healthcare delivery in Chicago.
- Likewise, I encourage you to explore CMS’ robust new website, and experience the blogs, forums, and committee sections that permit the exchange of ideas and opinions. The expanded website offers a career center and job board. Our online grassroots advocacy center links physicians to their legislators and the news media, with sample letters and advice on effectively communicating your message. The site also informs members of pending legislation and urges them to engage their elected leaders.
- CMS gave physicians a stronger voice within the organization. Through the expansion of our governing Council, leaders of hospital medical staff organizations and specialty societies can influence the direction of organized medicine in new and exciting ways. This mutually beneficial relationship provides medical staff and specialty society leaders with valuable services while indirectly helping CMS build and accentuate the benefits of membership.
- Thanks to innovative recruitment, CMS gained at least 1500 additional physician voices, pushing our membership to 6,000. A strong collective voice attracts the attention of legislators who always want to know how many doctors we represent. With our new members, CMS is closer to representing every physician in Cook County.
- In recognition of the practice manager role on the healthcare team, CMS created a dedicated section for this group. The section offers structured programs and services for resolving daily challenges, as well as networking forums and educational, professional, and personal resources. Membership is open to all practice managers who live or work in Cook County, with discounts for those employed in the offices of CMS members.
- CMS was highly visible on several public health fronts. As a partner in the Project SMILE (Save More Illinois Lives through Education) coalition, we celebrated a bill signing by Governor Quinn that amended the Illinois Good Samaritan Act. This change, which CMS strongly supported, created new legal protections for bystanders who give lifesaving CPR to sudden cardiac arrest victims. Another positive change was the removal of the CPR certification requirement for bystanders as a condition for administering CPR. CMS collaborated with the American Heart Association, Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation Education Service, Chicago Fire and Police Department, and American Red Cross on educational materials, as well as programs to train physicians and members of the public. CMS is now embarking on a campaign to build awareness around Cook County’s Primary Stroke Centers.
- We were among the coalition of organizations and individuals who pushed for a City Council ordinance that would have forced electric power producer Midwest Generation to reduce the amount of particulate matter and CO2 emitted by two of its Chicago power plants. But instead of an ordinance, we achieved an even greater victory. Under a deal negotiated by Mayor Emanuel with the Clean Power Coalition and Midwest, the power company agreed to close the Fisk plant in the Pilsen neighborhood by December and the Crawford plant in Little Village by the end of 2014.
- We publicly endorsed Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s plan to raise the tax on alcohol and extend the tobacco tax because higher “sin” taxes have been shown to reduce consumption of these products. Those tax hikes were approved by commissioners last November and incorporated into the 2012 budget.
- In advocacy, CMS engaged legislators, meeting with one-third of Illinois’ congressional delegation while in Washington, DC. We hammered away on declining reimbursement, and reforming Medicare so that we physicians are paid fairly for our services. Legislators at the time were considering a fix to the SGR crisis, but in the end refused to support a proposal to offset the SGR bad debt with monies from the Overseas Operation Contingency fund. We also pushed on medical liability reform and scope of practice challenges. Prior to advocating in Washington, we polled our members for their personal stories and recommendations to lawmakers. We relayed your dismay at having to struggle to keep the lights on in your practices.
Ultimately, members like you define the course of CMS. Unlike other professional organizations, we understand that physicians everywhere are up in arms over Medicare and Medicaid, loss of control, burdensome regulation, and mounting bureaucratic hurdles. When you gave us your ideas and suggestions for improving CMS, we listened, and most important, we acted. The result is an increasingly vital, relevant, and responsive CMS.
We welcome your suggestions for continued improvement, and encourage your participation.
Thomas M. Anderson, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society