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Society Welcomes New Leader

Education, collaboration and inclusivity for Dr. Kenneth G. Busch

The Chicago Medical Society’s 166th president takes office at a critical time for patients and physicians. As the Affordable Care Act reshapes practice and workforce shortages loom, incoming leader and psychiatrist Kenneth G. Busch, MD, says he is confident that CMS offers members the resources they need to succeed under the new order. During annual dinner ceremonies on June 2, Dr. Busch outlined his goals for 2014-2015. The incoming president plans to strengthen CMS advocacy and education on multiple fronts:

Patient Advocacy

“The health law gives coverage to those who could not afford care, but these newly insured patients need physicians to help them navigate a complex new world,” Dr. Busch said. “They may face restrictions or be confined to narrow networks and need us to advocate for ways they can see us and we can treat them. CMS will continue to fight for maintaining patients’ ability to see doctors and have ample choices.”

Physician Education

Along with the law come reforms and a new bureaucracy that will change forever the practice of medicine in the Chicago region and beyond, Dr. Busch predicted. The law, as well as health insurance companies and employers, are grouping doctors and hospitals together in entities known as ACOs. “CMS will continue educating members about their practice options, through our collaboration with the American Bar Association,” Dr. Busch pledged. Whether accountable care vehicles can improve quality and lower costs remains a big question mark, but CMS knows that there are not enough physicians to care for the millions of newly insured, Dr. Busch noted.

These ACOs and other accountable entities like patient-centered medical homes encourage a team-based approach to care. And it is the job of CMS to make sure that physicians are leading those teams, the new president affirmed.

Scope of Practice

As Dr. Busch pointed out, “Some non-physician health care providers are taking advantage of the shortage as an excuse to expand their roles without the training and experience needed to diagnose, treat, and care for patients.”

Physicians are entrusted with ensuring that patient care is of high quality and also safe. And fighting scope of practice intrusions will continue as a top priority for CMS, Dr. Busch said. As a psychiatrist, he said he is especially proud that CMS, ISMS, and the Illinois Psychiatric Society passed legislation that limits psychologists’ ability to prescribe psychotropic medications. This team effort sets stringent requirements in biomedical education and supervised clinical training. Psychologists cannot prescribe to anyone under age 17 or over age 65, or patients with serious illnesses, Dr. Busch explained.

CMS will be on guard in the coming year for even more efforts to expand scope of practice. Watering down scope laws is not the answer to the physician shortage. The medical profession, Dr. Busch stressed, must mobilize to educate lawmakers that scope expansions jeopardize patient safety.

Graduate Medical Education

CMS will keep up its campaign to bolster graduate medical education. Throughout the country, patients are waiting on average 18 days to see a family physician, especially veterans who must rely on VA hospitals and clinics. Wait periods persist even in cities with high numbers of physicians.

Policymakers and lawmakers have heard from CMS in the past year. Through personal visits, letter campaigns, and educational programs, CMS has pushed vigorously for raising the GME residency caps. Medicare spending for doctors in training was frozen under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

“The caps have led to severe shortages of primary care specialists, and likely contributed to the deaths of war heroes who had to wait too long to see a doctor,” Dr. Busch continued. Yet CMS has found that Medicare-funded GME and physcian training are among the few areas of bipartisan agreement in Washington, Dr. Busch noted. Like the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) crisis, GME funding is long overdue for reform. CMS will keep both issues at the forefront of legislative awareness, Dr. Busch affirmed.

Strong Public Health

CMS’ public health agenda will be robust this coming year, locally and nationally. The incoming president reported that CMS is collaborating for the first time with the American Heart Association on joint projects. “CMS can take pride in the fact that the AMA endorsed one of our resolutions declaring obesity as a disease state,” he noted. This idea gained international media headlines last year, and paves the way for insurer reimbursement for doctors who counsel their patients on overweight and obesity issues, and leads to new treatments.

“CMS will maintain its presence at City Hall, where our leaders have testified against energy drinks, electronic cigarettes, and coal-fired power plants,” Dr. Busch continued. “We will work both inside and outside our organizations to educate lawmakers and the public.

Legislative Advocacy

Over the years, Dr. Busch has cultivated numerous relationships with legislators. He wants physicians to know that many lawmakers are interested in learning about intricate technical subjects from physicians who have specific expertise in those areas. Now is the time to get involved!

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