John Maszinski
Office: 312-580-6440
Physician Response to Governor Quinn’s Budget Address
Physician Response to Governor Quinn’s Budget Address

Reaction to the Governor’s Budget Address from Illinois State Medical Society President Wayne V. Polek, MD

Chicago, IL – Physicians at the Illinois State Medical Society are deeply disappointed that the Governor's budget address ignored the huge financial burden medical offices are being forced to carry. As employers in Illinois, medical practices support 155,000 local jobs, represent 6.8 percent of our state's GDP, and generate nearly $28 billion in wages and benefits. Far from providing stability, Illinois’ budget "planning" is driving some of Illinois' most important employers out of business.

It is shocking, then, that the Governor's solution for Illinois' financial woes is to cut Medicaid funding. Illinois already ranks behind 40 other states for our Medicaid payment rates. Medicaid is drastically underfunded, to the point of being broken – gutting it further is reckless and irresponsible.

Scant attention is being paid to Illinois' enormous and growing backlog of unpaid medical bills for state workers. Medical services provided to state employees in April 2011 still have not been paid, costing the medical community tens of millions of dollars. Medical clinics in communities with dense populations of state workers – Champaign, Carbondale, Rockford, Peoria, Quincy and Springfield to name a few – are slowly drowning in a sea of unpaid bills from the state. If this pattern continues, patient access to medical care will be compromised.

Recent changes in state law further compound the problem, forcing medical practices to lose substantial revenue that could have been used to support salaries and business operations. Last year's changes to Illinois workers' compensation law cut reimbursements to physicians by 30 percent; however, this did not stop workers' comp insurers from increasing premiums charged to employers. In 2010, Illinois physicians lost a hard-won medical liability reform law, declared unconstitutional by the state’s high court.

In short, patching Illinois' budget shortfall on the backs of physicians is bad fiscal policy, and we urge state government to keep the promises it has made. Already one in two physicians who train here leave after residency. Let's not erode our health care finance system by further giving future doctors even more reason to leave.

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ISMS is a professional membership association representing 12,000 physicians practicing in all medical specialties statewide. Dr. Polek is an anesthesiologist from St. Charles.

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