Legislative Victories in Springfield
Rodney S. Alford, M.D., M.B.A.
Our Illinois State Medical Society has a tireless Governmental Affairs team dedicated to ensuring that the voices of Illinois physicians are heard in Springfield. The 2023 spring legislative session was the first full session since the declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency in March of 2020. Through our dedicated advocacy work, ISMS was able to secure increases to Medicaid reimbursements paid to physicians, change Illinois’ surprise billing law to better assist physicians and medical groups, streamline continuing medical education (CME) mandates for future licensure cycles, and obtain exemptions to the e-prescribing mandate.
Physicians deserve to be fairly compensated for our work, and Medicaid reimbursement rates were the focus of healthcare budget discussions with all provider and professional groups requesting increases for the upcoming year. In a major victory, the FY24 state budget taking effect on July 1, 2023, will feature $25 million designated specifically for physician rate increases to begin on Jan. 1, 2024. A significant portion of this meaningful package of increases will go to internal medicine, family practitioners and OB/GYN physicians, and also includes funding for psychiatric and dementia care.
ISMS also supported legislation that will allow out-of-network physicians to batch claims when seeking arbitration for underpayment of services. This will replace the current cost-prohibitive system in which physicians seeking arbitration can only do so on a per-claim basis, allowing practices to more easily pursue just compensation.
Legislators continue to propose new CME mandates for physicians, and our ISMS continues to work to protect Illinois physicians from onerous requirements. This legislative session, a deal was struck that will streamline and decrease CME mandates for future licensure cycles. Keep an eye out for additional information from ISMS explaining the new CME rules once the current licensure period closes on July 31.
All healthcare professionals who write prescriptions for controlled substances must, as of Jan. 1, 2024, provide those prescriptions electronically. ISMS was able to secure a number of exemptions to this requirement that will protect small and independent practices, as well as providing flexibility for physicians treating patients in group settings such as nursing homes, correctional facilities and others. More information on these e-prescribing exemptions, as well as all the healthcare-related activity from the 2023 spring legislative session, can be found in the 2023 End of Session Report.
These victories in Springfield would not have been possible without an effective grassroots effort from ISMS members who contacted their state legislators in unprecedented numbers concerning issues important to the practice of medicine and patient safety. I encourage all members to stay active and engaged with their state representatives to help us secure future wins at the state level. Remember, any member may submit a resolution with an issue or concern you’d like to see us take to Springfield. You can also support our legislative work by making a contribution to IMPAC, the Illinois State Medical Society Political Action Committee, which protects the interests of physicians statewide.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how you can get involved, please feel free to contact me at DrAlford@isms.org.
Until next time,
Rodney S. Alford, M.D., M.B.A.
President, Illinois State Medical Society