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Losing Their Luster

I’m sure many of you were looking forward to a better year and more promising future when we turned the calendar last month and started a new year. Whether our wishes were personal, professional or spiritual, we all look to the future in anticipation that circumstances will be different. We keep the hope that with age comes wisdom and the knowledge to make better decisions, and not be drawn into making the same mistakes over again.

And like our patients, we often start the year with good intentions, hoping to eat better, get more rest, more exercise, and spend more time with family and loved ones. But like our patients, we often stumble, and fall back into old, familiar habits, finding it difficult to sustain the positive changes we hoped to make in our lives.

But it is not too late for us to revive our optimism for the New Year. During these long winter days, we have to remember just why we went into our profession, and the people who depend on our efforts.

And with the New Year, we are seeing more clearly how the landscape around us continues to evolve. Some additional provisions of the Affordable Care Act began to take effect. The statewide exchanges are also beginning to take shape, as legislatures began enrolling members in October. Business leaders regularly cite the health care law as the single largest event weighing on them. Determining the effects of the Affordable Care Act on labor costs creates uncertainty for the business community.

In the House of Medicine, we continue to see consolidation of practices, progress toward accountable care organizations, the emergence of patient centered medical homes, and continued uncertainty over the SGR and Medicare fee schedules. In Cook County and the State of Illinois, we deal with one crisis in government after another, from pensions to the state deficit and to the downgrading of the state’s credit rating.

To help you surmount the changes and challenges, the Chicago Medical Society and Illinois State Medical Society stand fighting on behalf of all physicians and patients. No matter what specialty or mode of practice, our organizations are here to serve and assist physicians. Whether it is helping you run your business, providing malpractice insurance through our CMS Insurance Agency, helping review your next employment contract through our relationship with the Health Law Section of the American Bar Association, providing valuable CME programs, or assisting you with the administrative hassles and oversight of insurance companies and the government, we are here to help.

Please let us know how we can serve you as we continue to transform our organization to better reflect our members’ needs. Your input and guidance are invaluable as we create policy and propose legislation. As a grassroots member, your involvement tells us what’s working in health care, and where you see the need for meaningful change that would allow you to spend more time with patients and less time on unreimbursed administrative tasks.

If you haven’t already done so, please log on to our website at and share your thoughts with staff or with me. Take the time to explore the extent of member services we offer, and let us know if we can assist you in still more ways.

Howard Axe, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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