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President’s Message

A November to Remember

How many times have you heard the upcoming elections will be critical in determining the future direction of our country? This year of course is no different.

In November, we will elect the next president, and also reshape Congress. While the majority of politicians have a legal background, the array of issues they will deliberate and legislate extend far beyond the legal realm.

This is where each of you has an opportunity, no, an obligation, to educate your elected officials about how legislation being debated by politicians has a profound impact on physicians and the health and well-being of the patients we treat. Most have heard the adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” This is exactly how we should approach legislators on behalf of our profession and our patients. In my conversations with politicians, I have found that most are truly interested in the experiences of a physician, and how laws affect us and patient care.

Yet physicians are often reluctant to engage their legislators, and may offer the following reasons why:

  • I don't know how to get involved.
  • I don't know who my politicians are.
  • I'm so busy running my practice, learning how to use my new EMR, and planning for ICD-10, that I have no time to do this.
  • Political talks don't belong in the exam room.
  • My patients don’t come to me to hear my political views.

While many of us can relate to several of these reasons, now is the time to reach beyond these barriers and get engaged in the education of our patients and politicians. You will likely find the time spent rewarding. Patients will likely thank you for the information and for taking an interest.

Here is a primer on how to participate in the legislative process:

  • Find your lawmaker by going to the ISMS website,, or the CMS Grassroots Advocacy Center .
  • Write a letter or email to your representatives asking them to help you care for patients without so much outside interference.
  • Ask to have a face-to-face meeting with your legislator.
  • Let CMS staff know you are willing to host a legislative mini-internship, in which a local politician shadows you for a half- or full-day to understand the daily challenges you encounter practicing medicine.
  • Print out and post copies of your letters and requests to politicians, and distribute them to patients as they sign in for their visit.
  • Ask your patients to register to vote and study issues that will affect them.

We must all realize that to effect change, we must be “in the game,” not just sitting on the sidelines as observers. Please join the game. And while you are at it, please help strengthen our team by encouraging your colleagues to join, so our voice is even stronger. Please continue to let your CMS leadership and staff know how they can help you. Also, let us know about your efforts and successes so we can share them with others.

And don’t forget to vote on November 6.

Howard Axe, MD
President, Chicago Medical Society

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