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Saying Farewell

My term ends in June, and this is my last column relaying news from the Chicago Medical Society. It was an honor and privilege to serve you and also to advocate for you. Advocacy is my avocation; I thrive on personal interaction with lawmakers while working with a corps of committed physician volunteers. As we build a bridge to a better future, here’s a look at what lies ahead:

Locally, we saw opioid prescribing legislation clear the Illinois House. With the removal of onerous mandates, CMS supports the amended language. We expect more attempts to cut the workers’ compensation fee schedule this legislative session, following the recent defeat of proposals to impose cuts of more than 50%. In other news, the procedure for disbursement of health liens in civil cases remains intact, thanks to the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision. Finally, a bill before Governor Rauner requires primary care physicians to offer Hepatitis C screening for all Baby Boomer patients. CMS and the Illinois State Medical Society are already urging the governor to veto this mandate.

The AMA meeting is underway this month, and Illinois’ presence looms large. Our state is sponsor of key resolutions dealing with the ICD-10 conversion, Medicare’s three-day stay rule, virtual credit cards, and more. Repeal of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) paves the way for big changes in the way physicians practice and get paid for caring for Medicare patients. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 includes provisions designed to prod physicians into alternative payment models.

Here in Illinois many legislative proposals bound for the General Assembly came from CMS members who brought their voices to ISMS’ House of Delegates. Those CMS initiatives address:

  • Medical necessity determinations by insurance companies.
  • Maintenance of certification.
  • Payer policies that establish a legal basis for breach of standard of care in medical malpractice suits.
  • Physician-owned labs and markups for anatomic pathology services.
  • FOID mental health reporting responsibilities.
  • Punitive conflict of interest disclosure policies.
  • Medicaid payment for primary care providers.
  • Medical cannabis dispensaries under The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.
  • Education of food service handlers and customers about health risks of food allergies.

As these bills reach Springfield, our more than 130 newly trained Key Contact physician volunteers stand ready to push legislation along. These “graduates” join our cadre of advocates shaping the political process.

On a final note, the future of our profession and our ability to care for an increasing population, is at stake. That’s why CMS moved graduate medical education to its national advocacy forefront on Capitol Hill. Four U.S. House members put their name on various GME expansion bills, thanks to our concerted outreach. We plan to enlist many more members of Congress in the year ahead.

I am rightfully proud of what we accomplished this past year. Your incoming president, Kathy M. Tynus, MD, is an academic director and a program director who will keep GME funding front and center. I leave you in her most capable hands.

Kenneth G. Busch, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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