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Public Health Year in Review

THE CHICAGO Medical Society shapes policy, not just locally, but also in the national capitol, whether it’s opioids, drug price gouging, gun violence, or CPR. Here’s a recap of major advocacy events in 2017-2018.

Shaping the County Health System
The Chicago Medical Society serves on the nominating committee for the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) Board. In that capacity, CMS selects candidates for Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s consideration. This year, the committee chose three of the Medical Society’s physician nominees: Drs. Tariq Butt, Peter Orris, and Heather Prendergast.

Stemming the Opioid Crisis
A joint proposal from the Indian American Medical Association, Illinois, and the Chicago Medical Society aims to identify best approaches for combatting the inner-city opioid epidemic. Leaders of CMS and IAMA brought the concept to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle last June. John Jay Shannon, MD, the CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, also participated, as did representatives from several other Indian American medical specialty groups.

The demonstration would involve a broad range of medical experts as well as elected officials and community activists. Communities could test and measure different approaches such as health education, clinical intervention or a combination of both.

The proposal comes from Sreenivas Reddy, MD, president of the IAMA in Illinois and a CMS member. He and CMS President Vemuri Murthy, MD, said they envision a small-scale project on Chicago’s West Side or South Side. From the pilot, Drs. Murthy and Reddy hope to see the formation of best practices.

Dr. Reddy is also proposing a roundtable meeting of Chicago-area hospital CEOs, and elected officials to facilitate dialogue toward the demonstration project.

Partnering with the DEA
Early in 2018, the Chicago Medical Society took the lead by working with the DEA on the development of opioid training programs for teaching institution faculty, staff, students and residents. As a continuing medical education provider, CMS’ programs focus on safe prescribing, recognizing at-risk patients and proactive preventive care. The programs discuss the social determinants of opioid addiction, and interventions already occurring in Illinois for prescription opiates.

Collaborating on Legislation
The Chicago Medical Society was active in 2018 educating lawmakers and shaping opioid-related legislation. These efforts focus on making sure legislative measures are reasonable and effectively targeted.

Collaborating with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, the Medical Society joined in a press event at the University of Illinois to back a new bill aimed at pharmaceutical reps and opioid distributors. Senator Durbin is sponsor of the Addiction Prevention and Responsible Opioid Practices Act. The bill expands on a Chicago ordinance. It also includes a physician educational component that aligns with CMS’ position—that only those who prescribe opioids for longer than three days need specialized education.

The Medical Society also led the charge for increased access to naloxone, lifting the cap on buprenorphine prescriptions, increased funding and coordination of evidence-based addiction treatment programs.

Preventing School Shootings
The Chicago Medical Society carried a proposal to Washington, DC, only hours before the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. While in Washington for National Advocacy Day, CMS raised the intersection of school security with mental health, by meeting with U.S. Department of Education officials and legislators about a new framework that helps adults and kids know what to watch for. The innovative framework, which is being advanced in the State of Illinois, is known as “See, Hear and Speak Up.”

Since CMS initiated dialogue with the DOE, several meetings have taken place, including a roundtable panel with Congressman Quigley. The concept of “See, Hear and Speak Up” is now being studied by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Advancing Scrutiny of Big Pharma Pricing
Outrageous price spikes prompt the Chicago Medical Society to testify before a City Council committee, in favor of a Drug Pricing Transparency Ordinance. The legislation comes from Alds. Edward Burke and Sophia King. The Medical Society’s testimony (Dr. Chauhan) airs on WBBM Radio.

Alderman Burke addresses CMS’ Council so that members learn about the local effort to bring public scrutiny to prescription drug pricing practices. The proposal requires companies selling products in Chicago to not only report but also to justify price increases above certain percentages, with research and other data. Alderman Burke also wants to establish a price review board.

CMS also backs federal legislation The Drug-price Transparency in Communications (DTC) Act of 2017. U.S. Senator Richard Durbin asks for CMS’ support. The bill requires the pharmaceutical industry to provide more information about the cost of drugs in their advertisements. Also, the bill requires drug companies to disclose the Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) of a prescription medication in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising and in marketing to prescribers.

CMS signs on to a letter to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners calls attention to the role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in the cost pipeline.

Saving Lives with Community CPR
The Chicago Medical Society’s Community CPR Project brought hands-only instruction to the offices of legislators. It also affiliated with several medical specialty groups. The Indian American Medical Association, Illinois, joined as an official partner of the CMS initiative.

Plans are underway to train the Chicago City Council.

In recent years, the reach has expanded to local universities, legislators, the Chicago Consular Corps., and the Consulate General of India in Chicago, to expand hands-only CPR. Some of the lawmakers to receive training include U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Jan Schakowsky.

Securing Chicago Medical Society Day
The Chicago City Council issued a proclamation recognizing March 30 as Chicago Medical Society Day, an important milestone in the annals of CMS, which remains one of the largest county medical societies in the United States. As part of this special recognition, the proclamation “applauds the proud history and contributions of the Chicago Medical Society” in diverse areas of public health, patient care, medical education, physician advocacy and community cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training with ongoing commitment of service to the local communities.

This recognition is one more way CMS is working to educate legislators, citizens, and groups about the important work of our local physicians and their representative organization.

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