With all the bad news coming out of Springfield lately, it would be easy to overlook the positive steps that are being taken – many of which are the direct result of advocacy by the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS). While the issues change from year to year, one fact has remained constant: Everyone in state government, from the General Assembly to the Governor’s office, knows that ISMS is the voice of Illinois physicians from all specialties. That understanding gives us the credibility and the influence to make real change in Springfield, and when we work in concert with partners like the Illinois Society of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, our combined efforts are even more effective.

Workers’ Compensation

This year, ISMS has pushed back hard against repeated proposals to cut physician reimbursements under the workers’ compensation program. This issue has been a perennial tug-of-war in Illinois, and ISMS is strongly advocating for the implementation of needed reforms – particularly electronic billing for work comp claims, which is already law but is not being enforced – rather than physician reimbursement cuts, which harm access to care.

Network Adequacy & Transparency

Our signature legislative effort this year is the Network Adequacy and Transparency Act, which would establish meaningful standards for insurance networks in Illinois. Currently, many patients must drive long distances to see in-network specialists, and if they suddenly find that their preferred doctor or facility is no longer in-network, they have no choice but to pay more or switch doctors.  The NAT Act, which passed the House in late April with an overwhelming supermajority, would require networks to have adequate numbers of doctors and hospitals, including specialists, and would provide continuity of care for pregnant patients or those with complex illnesses in the event their insurance networks change.

Scope of Practice

ISMS is also active on a variety of scope-of-practice issues affecting our patients. We are defending against attempts by naturopaths to be licensed as primary care physicians, a bill from lay midwives who want to provide home birthing services unsupervised, and much more. On the positive side, we are advocating for changes to the Acupuncture Practice Act, including a provision that will allow licensed acupuncturists to practice East Asian medicine.  The intense education and training required to become an acupuncturist are also sufficient for the practice of East Asian medicine, and ISMS worked closely with the Illinois Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine and other stakeholders to produce legislation that recognizes this.

We at ISMS look forward to partnering with ILPMR on issues of concern to physiatrists and the broader physician community.  To find out more about ISMS, please visit www.isms.org, and feel free to contact us any time at communications@isms.org.

 

Paul H. DeHaan, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon, McHenry County
Trustee and Immediate Past Board Chair
Illinois State Medical Society

© 2016 by Walter Friberg

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