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September 2015
In this Issue

  • Hep C Screening Will NOT be a Mandate in Illinois (at Least for Now)

    In a victory that shows relentless advocacy efforts, ISMS finally stopped a bill that would have required physicians to offer a one-time Hepatitis C screening to persons born between 1945 and 1965 when providing a "comprehensive physical examination."

    At our urging, Governor Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 661 last month, with a message that echoed our key arguments against this mandate. Last week, following continued advocacy from ISMS, the General Assembly indicated there will be no effort made to override that veto.

    The defeated legislation would have essentially mandated adherence to practice guidelines set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

    ISMS supports these guidelines – but is vehemently opposed to inserting them into law, which would impose a specific standard of care and increase physicians' exposure to civil liability and professional discipline for unintended failure to comply with the law.

    After the CDC guidelines were issued in August of 2012, the number of reported Hepatitis C cases in Illinois shot up significantly. Data obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) showed a 29 percent increase in reported cases from 2013 to 2014.

    Back in Springfield, the battle is not completely over. Illinois physicians can expect to see the threat of a Hepatitis C screening mandate and other related legislation in the future. 

    ISMS urges physicians to screen baby boomers and other high risk patients for Hepatitis C, consistent with the CDC and USPSTF guidelines. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers cover this service. Screening is also a best practice from a risk management standpoint. For example, if you do not offer to screen a patient for Hep C who is later diagnosed with liver damage, you could be at risk for a medical lawsuit.

    ISMS will continue to work with all stakeholders to improve Hepatitis C education and access to screening.

    Visit ISMS’ Hepatitis C webpage and our Legislative Action Hub for more details. 

    If you are a non-member reading this webpage article, know that you are benefitting from the Illinois State Medical Society’s successful advocacy achievements.

    So why not join with us? The more physicians unite together for the sake of our profession, the more ISMS can do to make Illinois a better place to practice medicine.

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