Published in the March/April 2013 Edition of the KCMS BULLETIN
On January 9, 2009, President-elect Barack Obama made a statement about the economy saying, "Everybody's going to have to have some skin in the game." Well, do physicians have enough 'skin in the game'?
The IDFPR Director, Jay Stewart and Acting Secretary, Manuel Flores, don't think so. Physician fees for licensure and disciplinary actions have been stable at $300 per three year licensure cycle. This has been more than sufficient to cover the costs of the department regarding physicians and had allowed a surplus of over $9.6 milllion dollars to accumulate. However, due to the profligacy of the State of Illinois, these funds were "stolen"
and transferred to the state's general fund. Now, the physicians of Illinois have been made the scapegoats for the shortfall in providing services for licensure and discipline. The department sent a derogatory letter blaming the ISMS and any physician opposing massive fee increases. Even an editorial in the Chicago Tribune from January 24, 2013, supports an increase in fees despite the loss of the funds we paid in for these mandated activities saying, "So, doctors, time to swallow a fee increase..." The initial HB 193 was pushing for a $750/cycle fee or 250% increase. Recently, the IL Senate passe SB 622 for a $690/cycle fee or 230% increase. Allegedly the fees will drop back after 2 licensure cycles to $500 but there is no guarantee of that.
Have you given enough skin yet?
Another "brilliant" idea by our Illinois State legislature was the introduction of SB 73 introduced on January 23, 2013 by IL Senator Heather Steans. This would allow advanced practice nurses to practice medicine without physician collaboration or supervision. If you believe that an APN with 2 years of training beyond nursing school can do your job as well and as safely as you, without physician oversight, then be grateful that the IDFPR does not have enough money in their disciplinary fund. I am sure this law which was introduced was a well meaning attempt to give a low cost alternative to standard medical care; however, the Meical Practice Act requires certain standards of training and education which is not met by this bill.
I bring up just two assaults on the practice of medicine in Illinois. If we did not have our ISMS and KCMS evaluating and protecting our patients and practices in Illinois, no one else would do it. The specialty societies we belong to do a great job in Washington, D.C. regaring national issues, but none of them have or can make a serious effort to protect your license, your ability to practice medicine and protect against "scope of practice creep' which occurs almost every day by bills introduced in Illinois.
Support KCMS and ISMS with your membership in order to keep our "hides" in the game or be prepared to have yours skinned!
Dr. Brad Epstein, M.D.
Kane County Medical Society