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Attacking practice burdens, scope intrusions, and payment woes

THE CHICAGO Medical Society is the most active local group, uniting and fighting for physicians. Not only is CMS the hardest working county in Illinois, it’s also the largest, serving an area with 17,000 physicians. Whether it’s representing medicine in Chicago, Springfield, or Washington, DC, developing educational tools, studying complex issues, or advancing policies, members have many opportunities to see their dues dollars at work. The price of membership is a pittance when weighed against the cost of harmful bills CMS opposes and the prophysician measures it promotes.

Some of the efforts being advanced by the Medical Society include:

• Promoting a legislative “Physician Bill of Rights” with fundamental principles to guide the employer-physician relationship.
• Improving the usability of EHRs through reduced regulation and elimination of data blocking.
• Reducing the burden of Medicare reporting on physicians with simplified reporting programs.
• Working to limit Medicare audit lookback periods and improve fairness in payment recovery
• Addressing systemic problems that impede physicians’ ability to practice in a wide variety of practice arrangements and compete in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace.
• Giving input on surprise billing legislation that protects patients from out-of-network charges while ensuring that insurers pay physicians fairly and transparently.
• Proposing a new CPT Code for time spent on prior authorizations.
• Reforming the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, known as “Open Payments,” to reduce paperwork burdens and other hassles.

The Chicago Medical Society was active on several successful efforts: preventing the proposed collapse of the E/M coding system; improving Medicare’s Quality Payment Program; passing a network adequacy and transparency law in Illinois; removing pain as the fifth vital sign; and achieving new CPT payment codes for obesity counseling and end-of-life care discussions.

Legislative Engagement
The fields of engagement—the Illinois legislature, U.S. Congress, County and City government—are many. The Chicago Medical Society shapes public policy on behalf of physicians and patients. Not only do we make legislative rounds in Washington, DC, and work with top administrative staff, we also meet throughout the year in lawmakers’ local offices. All members who want to participate in these talks are welcome to join.

Advocacy Mentorship
CMS makes it easy for members to commit themselves to the advocacy process. Through our Key Contacts program, CMS mentors physician volunteers on how to form meaningful connections with their lawmaker or someone running for elected office. The program is flexible, accommodating your busy schedule.

Democratic Forums
Many ideas and policy solutions take root in the Chicago Medical Society’s Governing Council. This makes CMS a launch site for county, state, and national initiatives. CMS also recognizes the necessity of a strong representative Society that engages all physicians, giving all groups opportunities to influence CMS’ future. Our Council structure reflects the physician community, with seats for academic medical centers, community hospitals, safety net institutions, large group practices, ethnic and specialty groups, and federally qualified health centers. We provide a voice for everyone.

Committees at Work
Committees form the backbone of all we do, and we rely on members to help identify topics for study. Our broad scope, deep well of policy resources and ties within the legal and legislative communities expedite study and formulation of responses.

Grassroots Resolutions

Chicagoland physicians enjoy visibility at the state and national levels. CMS brings more proposals to the Illinois State Medical Society than any other region. These resolutions then dominate the Illinois delegation’s policy agenda at the American Medical Association. Many resolutions form the basis of bills introduced in Springfield and Washington, DC, by ISMS and AMA. Every member is welcome to introduce resolutions to CMS on issues affecting their professional needs and interests.

Medical-Legal Education
The Chicago Medical Society’s educational programs reflect the latest legal and regulatory developments. As independent practice gives way to employment, we provide nonclinical CME most physicians won’t easily find. Our educational alliance with the American Bar Association brings health law attorneys and physicians together for sessions on a range of employment contracting issues. We believe that today’s physician needs to know the factors that determine compensation, what due process means, and how to navigate noncompete provisions.

Programs also address health system consolidation, hospital and physician relationships, third-party payment issues, opioid prescribing and physician burnout. Top government officials also provide updates and answer questions.

Unity and Alignment
Most physicians don’t have the time to march in the streets or on Capitol Hill. Physicians have common interests and we advance nonpartisan solutions to issues important to you and your profession.

Your goals are our goals. If you’re employed, you are likely to rely on your hospital, medical group or university medical center to advocate on your behalf. But an employer’s interests may not align with yours. Narrowly focused and competing medical specialty societies seldom succeed on a broad scale. It takes physician unity to achieve major victories in Springfield and Washington that benefit all physicians and the profession at large.

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