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Standing By Our Principles as Political Winds Shift

As new legislative sessions in Springfield and Washington begin in the new year, agendas are already quickly emerging and stakeholders are aggressively lobbying for a seat at the table for the next historic healthcare debate. We should view this as an opportunity for our organization to reshape healthcare as changes are discussed and put before members of the U.S. Congress and the Illinois Legislature. We need to hear from you and want to know your ideas as lawmakers place health reform atop their political agendas once again. It’s no secret Republicans have said they want to repeal and replace much, if not all, of the Affordable Care Act. Not everyone will be open to wholesale changes and we understand that given physicians have differing views on health system reform. But we have an opportunity as replacement of the ACA is debated to improve legislation for physicians and their patients. Our own Chicago Medical Society membership includes both physicians at the end of their careers and young doctors just starting out—each group has different needs and goals. The challenge is to reach common ground on what to pursue and how to reach a productive consensus as we move forward. One thing has emerged in the early days of debate about the ACA’s future—key health organizations are already standing by their principles and advocating their positions. They are wasting little time. Take the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, as notable early examples. A week after the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump as president and Republicans retaining control of Congress, the AMA’s House of Delegates on Nov. 15 issued “core principles and priorities” to guide the AMA’s advocacy efforts regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act. The AMA continued its support of a requirement that individuals and families who can afford coverage be “required to obtain it” and also its support of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, the American Hospital Association less than two weeks later wrote a four-page letter to President-elect Trump urging, among other things, relief from regulations like meaningful use and some quality measures imposed by Medicare under ACA reform. In Illinois, the Illinois Hospital Association in early December was quick to point out the economic impact of insured patients in hospitals and warned of an ACA repeal without a replacement. Healthcare associations are using this period before a new administration and Congress as an opportunity to reshape the healthcare agenda and at the very least provide ideas and input on how to fix problems in the ACA and U.S. health policy in general. Today is a new day and an opportunity for strong leadership to meet physician needs. Please share your thoughts so we can better represent you. This is your organization. Help us reshape healthcare.

Clarence W. Brown, Jr., MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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