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Our need for professional advocacy is perhaps greater now than at any time in our nation’s history. And that’s why the Chicago Medical Society works continuously to provide Cook County’s 17,000 physicians the collective voice they need to influence national and local events, and to improve care for nearly six million patients. At CMS, we embrace practitioners of all specialties, affiliation types and practice modes.

Since our founding in 1850, CMS has worked to unify physicians around shared professional interests and goals while advancing public health in the local community. And here’s how we are working for you today:

  • Helping physicians and patients navigate the complex new world of the Affordable Care Act. We educate members about their practice options, partly through our medical-legal collaboration with the American Bar Association, and through published articles in this magazine on new accountable care vehicles.
  • Advocating that patients maintain their ability to see doctors and have ample choices.
  • Ensuring that physicians lead the health care team. The doctor shortage has triggered an assault on scope of practice laws, as others in the health care field use the shortage as an excuse to expand their roles without the training needed to diagnose, treat and care for patients. We must fight scope of practice laws that water down the physician’s role in ensuring high-quality, safe patient care.
  • Educating policymakers and lawmakers on the importance of graduate medical education funding. We have built a presence on Capitol Hill, visiting regularly to urge Congress to lift the caps on GME funding that froze Medicare spending for doctors in training as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. We continue to work with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (see article on page 24) to advance his bill “Training Tomorrow’s Doctors Today Act” by urging more Illinois lawmakers to co-sponsor this critical piece of legislation.

We know we can be successful in our message.

CMS’ public health mission is as robust today as it was in the days we fought cholera, typhoid fever, and other diseases ravaging our city. (See page 6 for highlights of our public health advocacy now shaping policy at the American Medical Association.) Last year, for example, the AMA endorsed a CMS measure declaring obesity as a disease state. This idea gained international headlines in the media, and puts pressure on insurers to start reimbursing doctors for obesity counseling. We went to City Hall last year to join Ald. Edward Burke’s push to ban the sale of energy drinks, which are increasingly a threat to patient safety, particularly among young people.

In future months, you’ll be hearing more about our new collaboration with the American Heart Association, something that will benefit our members and their patients through joint programming. We will continue to work both inside and outside of our organization. Lawmakers do not always understand the intricate details of certain aspects of legislation, yet they are eager to learn about technical information from physicians who have specific expertise.

I look forward to working with you, and advocating for you.

Kenneth G. Busch, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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