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June 2014
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  • A Powerful Force for Good Medicine: ISMS advocacy
    William A. McDade, MD
    ISMS President
    William A. McDade, MD, PhD

    Legislative advocacy consistently ranks the highest when we ask our members to assess what they value the most as a reason for belonging to the Illinois State Medical Society.

    Efforts on this front are perhaps most visible in Springfield, where each year our legislative team reviews hundreds of bills that impact physicians and patients.

    Having chaired the Governmental Affairs Council for a number of years, I can assure you that the leadership in advocacy for you and your patients is unparalleled. We fight hard to initiate and advance proposals that our members have identified as key priorities, and to block attempts by other groups to pass legislation harmful to medicine. We work well with other state based specialty societies to address scope of practice issues, so as to ensure the safest environment for our patients that we can.

    The value of advocacy is sometimes invisible, because when we successfully defend against a bad proposal, we as members never experience that proposal's effect. Not all of our successes can be quantified in the manner of ISMS' recent success in obtaining an increase to non-surgical worker's compensation Evaluation & Management codes. A very tangible benefit can be calculated knowing that through ISMS efforts, these reimbursements will increase by an average of 9.5 percent.

    Some consider the 2013 increase in Illinois' physician licensure fees an unnecessary and added expense for doctors. What this view fails to capture is the fact that while licensure fees were increasing all around us, Illinois held our fees low and flat for more than 20 years. Before the hike, Illinois had the second lowest fee per annum.

    Despite the increase, which could have been substantially higher without our diligence, we continue to push politicians to leave the funds raised by the measure, in the Department of Finance and Professional Regulation where it can increase the staff to process licenses more rapidly and thus increase access to care for patients; and, to investigate claims thoroughly to ensure patient safety. Because of deficits run up by the state, these funds have been swept into general revenue coffers in prior years, a practice we fervently oppose.

    ISMS has developed two resources to help you better understand the legislative accomplishments your dues dollars supported this year.

    A comprehensive end-of-session report is just a click away, highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly from our 2014 work in Springfield.

    For those seeking "just the facts," a two-page document is available covering the high-level view of our legislative accomplishments.

    Throughout the year ISMS Advocacy is at your fingertips. Regular updates can be found on our Legislative Action Hub. Our recently debuted newsletter, ISMS Physician Advocate, features updates on the sausage making of health laws.

    And, of course, our membership exclusively receives "Action Alert" notifications when important legislation is on the move. Your phone calls, emails and personal connections with the lawmakers representing us in Springfield are a huge source of support to our legislative advocacy success. We thank you for your involvement in making Illinois a safer place to practice medicine.

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