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A Year of Advocacy

We happily capped off 2014 by celebrating with a well-received Holiday Reception for members and guests. We knew physicians needed a chance to unwind from the stresses that today’s issue-laden medical field brings to their lives, and our reception was indeed a welcome de-stressor. The celebration, at Maggiano’s Banquets, featured a live band, and lots of dancing. And there was of course the fine food, and a generous serving of camaraderie.

As we begin a fresh year, let me recap one of the chief pillars of CMS: our advocacy programs. Here’s an update on our progress.

This past December, CMS and Congressman Danny Davis assembled a task force that was hosted by Rush University Medical Center. Representatives from four teaching institutions were there, along with several residents, to discuss the cap on GME training slots. More than 30 people participated.

We have implemented our Key Contacts Program, and now have 130 members. Our first training took place on Saturday, Jan. 24. State Rep. Ann Williams was with us for the entire training. She discussed the importance of physician’s opinion in the political process and shared best practices on how to engage local legislators.

Representative Williams emphasized the importance of forming meaningful relationships with legislators. We physicians are in a unique position since we are the experts and if legislator have a relationship with physicians they will seek their input. This will definitely influence how policy and legislation are shaped.

She cautioned members to recognize the difference in quality versus quantity when communicating with legislators. Legislators are more inclined to take your recommendations seriously if you are thoughtful about your communications. She shared an example of receiving an overwhelming 24,000 emails from Uber, which was an automatically generated email sent to her upon payment for her Uber ride. This did not sway her opinion since it was evident this was a mass communication that did not provide substantive information to help her make a decision.

We were also fortunate to have ISMS legislative affairs staff provide an overview of the politics of health care in the Illinois General Assembly. ISMS staff engaged in role playing to provide hands-on training.

CMS members were given a public health issue to review at the meeting, and then had the opportunity to practice lobbying a legislator. Over 20 CMS members participated. This training will prove to be valuable as we reach out to members for their support on public health issues.

Another way we educate legislators is through the CMS Mini- internship Program. CMS can arrange for a legislator to shadow a physician for a day, during rounds, in the clinic, or in surgery. Legislators say they have come away with concrete examples of how their laws affect daily medical practice.

I invite any physician—employed, academic, or solo practice, to participate. Last fall, CMS held nine mini-internships, at facilities like Advocate Christ Hospital, where we hosted State Sen. Bill Cunningham; at Westlake Hospital, with State Rep. Kathleen Willis; at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, with State Sen. Napoleon B. Harris, and at the Midwest Center for Women’s Healthcare.

On a final note, CMS is pleased to extend the 5% discount to members of five years standing or more into 2015.

Kenneth G. Busch, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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