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July 2015
In this Issue
  • Hep C Screening Skyrockets, Yet Springfield Seeks an Unnecessary Mandate

  • ISMS President
    Scott A. Cooper, MD

    In May, state lawmakers passed legislation that would impose a mandate on physicians and certain allied health professionals when providing a “comprehensive physical examination” regardless of setting. The requirement is to offer Hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening to “baby boomers” and other patients deemed high risk for the infection. The legislation, S.B. 661, is now on Governor Rauner’s desk.

    Increasing diagnosis of HCV is a reasonable goal. Breakthrough drugs could help eradicate this chronic illness, which initiates chronic long-term health concerns, and even death for some. However, ISMS disagrees that a directive from Springfield is the best medicine for our patients. 

    Many HCV infected patients are likely undiagnosed, which led to new screening guidelines issued  first in 2012 followed by another in 2013 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). As regular readers of ISMS publications know, we’ve heavily promoted the guidelines and Illinois physicians responded.

    As awareness of these guidelines expanded, screening compliance rose accordingly to reveal an indisputable correlation between awareness and screening. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), reporting of new Hep C cases increased 29 percent from 2013 to 2014. Keep in mind, the original CDC guideline was issued just one year prior to this reporting period. If you are one of the few who isn’t now familiar with the guidelines you can access them through ISMS’ Hep C resource page.

    It is not just these guidelines that warrant exclusion from Illinois’ book of law; we oppose legislation of any of the more than 7,500 clinical practice guidelines developed by our specialties, federal agencies and public health entities. It is incumbent upon each of us to know the latest research and guidelines specific to our specialty that must be used in determining how to diagnose and treat every individual who walks through our door.

    Despite the promising compliance data offered by IDPH, the mandate bus continued to move through Springfield.  On your behalf, ISMS fought vigorously in the state house to stop the Hepatitis C screening mandate from advancing. With both the Senate and House passing S.B. 661, the future of this bill now rests with the governor. We’ve recently communicated our concerns to him, which include the lack of civil immunity protections and why he should instead support doctors and their patients in determining appropriate medical care.

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