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President’s Message

The Supreme Court and Healthcare

BY NOW EVERYONE knows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act. However, what most of us don’t know is how the ACA will truly re-shape the healthcare delivery system, and the impact it will have on the cost of care. Shortly after the decision was announced, almost every special interest group had a comment or spin on how they thought the decision would help or hurt their constituency. The Chicago Medical Society was also asked to relay its position. While our Governing Council has deliberated the issue, along with the ISMS House of Delegates in response to resolutions brought by members, our organizations have long focused on following the health reform principles we adopted years ago. We quickly released to the media our position stating the ACA does not address several key concerns.

  • The doctor-patient relationship. Are organizations are focused on enhancing this relationship and limiting interference by third-party insurance carriers and government in the interactions and decisions of physicians and their patients.
  • Flexible evidence-based protocols. While we support such protocols whenever possible, we believe they should recognize patients’ diverse health statuses and co-morbidities, as well as their different goals and expectations.
  • Medicare SGR fix. Our organizations have long pushed for a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.
  • Medical liability reform. We continue our efforts to reform the professional liability system through caps on non-economic damages at both the state and national levels.
  • The Supreme Court decision contains a provision on the Medicaid program. As Illinois physicians are keenly aware, our state’s Medicaid fee schedule ranks 41 in reimbursement. This payment is well below the cost of providing care, and is often delayed up to nine months. Your medical societies argue that any expansion of this program will require extensive modifications to truly guarantee increased access to healthcare.

In relaying our physicians’ perspective on these overlooked issues, CMS and ISMS are working in greater unity than ever to focus our resources for the greatest impact. When we addressed the Supreme Court decision, our messages were consistent. Now we need to hear from members like you how the law and Supreme Court decision is affecting your practice and your patients.

To make your voice heard on healthcare delivery and other issues, all members, not just councilors, soon will have the ability to submit resolutions to our organizations. Resolutions will be promptly assigned to the appropriate committee for deliberation, council debate and swift action. In the coming months, you’ll hear more about our efforts to streamline policymaking and boost participation.

You’ll also hear about the county medical societies communicating with each other and working closely with ISMS, along with plans for strengthening the federation of organized medicine in Illinois. ISMS Board Chairman Steven M. Malkin, MD, is leading strategy and planning meetings around these important topics.

Please engage your medical societies and leaders on behalf of your practice and profession.

Howard Axe, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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