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Collaboration Key Amid Political Division

The healthcare political landscape is changing across the country and it could dramatically alter the direction of healthcare in Illinois and the U.S.

As perhaps the most high profile example of this shift, the Affordable Care Act seems poised for change no matter which party is in power next year. Either a President Clinton or a President Trump knows there are problems with the law and both have vowed changes. Trump says he wants to repeal and replace it. Clinton says she wants to build on it, but fix it.

We know that health insurers across the country and in Illinois are leaving the ACA exchanges, giving our patients fewer choices and our physician members less access to health plan networks needed to treat the insured. Physicians cannot afford to sit on the sidelines when new policies emerge and we also cannot be unreasonable in what we ask.

We want to be at the table when proposals emerge from either party or both parties for what is sure to be a hotly debated topic in the new Congress just as it was seven years ago.

There are risks if we draw a line in the sand and aren’t open to discussing new ideas.

Take the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 known as “MACRA,” which was passed into law last year by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by Democratic President Barack Obama whose healthcare policies are generally disdained by the GOP.

So as MACRA’s quality measurements for physicians are rolled out over the next three years, we don’t want to be limited by policy positions that prevent us from having a seat at the table.

By its very nature, quality measure means there are going to be winners and losers. There are going to be physicians who make money and physicians who lose money and that’s already happened for providers that are involved in some of the early patient centered medical homes and accountable care organizations (ACOs).

But MACRA and other value-based initiatives that measure providers on quality and outcomes are not going to go away so we want to keep the lines of communication open with our political leaders as well as fellow providers like the hospital association and even the insurance companies as these new models are rolled out so we get the best deal for our members.

We have worked well with our Senators and our Congressmen on the federal level and our state legislators on the local level. We have a relationship and their trust.

We have to keep it going so we can better represent you. To that end, I encourage you to contact me and the CMS office and our online center to communicate your concerns and ideas.

We are advocates for 17,000 Chicagoland physicians and their 5 million patients who need us to speak out on issues that impact their future treatment.

After years of a congressional stalemate, the stakes are too high for us to refuse to budge on key issues. Together we must foster a culture of collaboration with all stakeholders gathered around the same table.

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

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