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Charting the Past and Future


In this final column, I invite you to look back at the past year’s achievements on behalf of physicians. They came about because of your Chicago Medical Society, at work locally, statewide and nationally. My goal, since taking office 12 months ago, has been to build on our rock-solid foundation. I thank all of you who helped with that endeavor.

Here’s a recap of what we did:

As Congress debated, CMS polled local physicians (members and nonmembers) for their views on policies and payment models. Our survey sparked wide interest—in Forbes, Becker’s Hospital Review, and the Chicago Tribune. We brought our survey results to Congress, along with the experiences you shared with us about practicing medicine today. The frustrations you express are all part of the package we communicate to Congress.

During repeal and replace talks, we stood steadfast on our health care principles. We also maintained that any reform must include reimbursement and regulatory relief. We made inroads with the Congressional Doctors Caucus. Our relationship with this inf luential group and its top physician leadership comes at a pivotal time. We took the lead in addressing the opioid crisis. Our work with U.S. Senator Durbin focused on legislation that is reasonable and effectively targeted, as well as education for physicians who prescribe high quantities of pain medication. These talks led to positive agreement on several issues.

As the practice environment changes, CMS met the needs of physicians with innovative education through our partnership with the American Bar Association’s Health Law Section. “Survival Guide: Emerging Issues in Health Care,” the title of our 70th Annual Conference, delivered focused content on value-based care. Nationally recognized speakers made sense of MACRA, the alphabet soup of the QPP, MIPS and APMs. Conference goers heard directly from U.S. Senators Richard Durbin and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, our keynote speakers who gave insider updates on health care reform and views across the political spectrum.

CMS laid the groundwork for a major piece of legislation that protects physicians as value-based care increasingly takes hold. The Network Adequacy and Transparency Act (NAT Act) sets standards for all health plans sold in Illinois. And it got started at CMS when we first studied the problem and brought our proposed solutions to ISMS. Our recommendations were taken up by ISMS and subsequently drafted into a bill for Springfield.

I cannot downplay the importance of this win. As medicine shifts from fee-for-service, nearly all health plans will feature narrow- and high-performance networks. Within these narrow plans will be tiers based on quality and performance data. Insurers will use these measures to determine how physicians are paid. And that means you.

Last of all, we are working with Ald. Edward Burke to address prescription drug price gouging. Our testimony at City Hall on the Chicago Drug Pricing Transparency Ordinance aligns with our new policy in this area. Serving as your president has been a great honor. You have enlightened me personally and done much to strengthen our 167-year-old Chicago Medical Society.


Clarence W. Brown, Jr., MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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