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President's Message: Thank You for the Opportunity of a Lifetime
Posted on: 4/1/2013
 Werner - regular
ISMS President

William N. Werner, MD

As the days wind down to the 2013 ISMS Annual Meeting and House of Delegates, I’ve been reflecting on the extraordinary experiences I have had as your president. I've been able to travel to many areas around Illinois and visit with the local county societies, medical groups and hospital staffs. I've seen the challenges that physicians are facing from our current environment, ranging from adoption of EHRs to finding and recruiting new physicians whether they be primary care or specialists. Add to that the uncertainty of health care reform with health insurance exchanges, expansion of Medicaid coverage, funding for medical education and realignment of reimbursement mechanisms such as accountable care organizations. No question – these are extraordinarily challenging times for physicians.

I've also had the privilege of representing you and your patients as the Society's spokesperson to the media, legislators, medical students and residents, specialty conferences and the general public. Besides the many questions and concerns regarding the Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010, which became law of the land in June 2012 by the Supreme Court’s ruling, we have faced a number of issues specific to Illinois. Starting in the spring of last year, the Governor and General Assembly enacted legislation to begin to control the increasing cost of Medicaid. Unlike most other Medicaid providers in the state, physicians did not get the "haircut" in reimbursement predicted by the Governor, although this is little comfort considering the current Illinois payment schedule ranks 40th in the nation. The same legislative action resulted in a preauthorization process for more than four prescriptions per month for most medications. ISMS has continued to monitor this process and advocate for physicians and their patients to remove barriers for access to needed drugs.

A highly visible controversy in Springfield dealt with the medical unit within the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) that is responsible for physician licensure and discipline. After a protracted legislative debate, licensure renewal fees will increase to $690 for the next two, three year cycles and then revert to $501 after 2018. ISMS led the way in discussing our concerns over the handling of these funds, defending against a higher fee increase sought by IDFPR and highlighted the faulty practice of "sweeping" dedicated money into the state's general funds.

In the last and current legislative sessions, there has been an array of "scope of practice" bills introduced by various non-physician health professions. While some seemed well intended, our concerns ranged from patient safety and fracturing the physician team-based approach to providing health care that is evolving under health reform. Again, ISMS articulated our concerns which, along with strong advocacy by our legislative team in Springfield, resulted in the majority of these scope bills not advancing.

In all of these debates, I have tried to be your voice in making our concerns and our patients' needs known. And while we may each have our individual opinions on these challenges, we need to speak as one voice when representing ISMS. No other physician organization in the state represents all physicians, and no one else will speak up for our concerns and interests. I am confident that Dr. Eldon Trame, your incoming president, will continue to amplify our voice to advocate for patient-centered, evidenced-based practice.

Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime to serve you and your patients.

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