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Message from the CMS President

A New Paradigm

LAST MONTH I wrote about newly enacted health laws in Illinois, a few of which had their origin at the Chicago Medical Society. These successes come at a time when physicians feel they aren’t being heard. CMS’ goal is to give you a voice to change that paradigm.

You’ll find below an update on more legislative activity to protect you and your practice. Some of the priorities remain a work in progress.

• Advocating for payment owed to physicians by the state. We are pleased the state has resolved to prioritize payments on the underlying principal of backlogged debt, of which a significant amount is owed to healthcare practitioners. This legislative step forward includes a setback: a reduction in the interest rate paid on late bills.
• Promoting a “Physician Bill of Rights.” This measure from the Chicago Medical Society declares the right to compensation for all activities on behalf of a hospital or affiliate; the right to academic freedom; the right to judgement by one’s peer clinicians, freedom to perform activities outside of employment, and the right to autonomy in the treatment of patients.
• Maintaining collaborative agreements for APRNs unless they meet increased post-graduate education and training requirements under a physician, among other safeguards. Legislation was enacted earlier this year.
• Limiting direct access for physical therapists while preserving a role for physicians. If the patient doesn’t improve within a set timeframe, the patient must be referred to a physician. Patients without a primary care physician or “physician of record” also must establish a PCP or be referred to a physician. This legislation was enacted.
• Reforming Workers’ Compensation to allow physicians to collect interest on late payments and to pursue court action to enforce those interest payments. Insurers would also be required to send an EOB explaining why they have denied authorization of medical care. Finally, companies that fail to comply with electronic claims processes would be hit with penalties. Though a reform bill passed by wide margins, Governor Rauner issued an amendatory veto. Overriding the veto is a top priority.
• Prohibiting inappropriate requests for a prescriber’s controlled substance license number or DEA registration number, including the possession of those numbers. This measure is from the Chicago Medical Society, and it remains a work in progress.
• Opposing one-size-fits-all opioid education mandates. Illinois enacted new coursework requirements for all prescribers who hold controlled substance licenses. Your Chicago Medical Society’s collaboration with U.S. Senator Durbin led to a compromise on federal legislation, however. Durbin’s Senate bill requires specialized training only for physicians who prescribe in amounts exceeding a 72-hour supply.

In conclusion, I ask that you go to page 12 of the October magazine issue, where we continue our historical series. You’ll find a comprehensive update on CMS’ work since 2000. Once you’ve read this section, please let us know what more the Chicago Medical Society can do to serve you.

Vemuri S. Murthy, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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