Healthcare Business News
Dr. William Werner, Illinois State Medical Society president

Ill. doc society backs 67% hike in license fees

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: January 31, 2013 - 11:30 am ET

The Illinois State Medical Society is supporting a bill that would raise physician license fees 67% to stabilize operations of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation's medical unit.

The unit, which handles doctor discipline and processes medical licenses, has had 18 of its 26 employees reassigned elsewhere because of budget issues that the medical society argues were caused by the state redirecting medical license fees for other purposes. With the reassignment of staff, it was feared that processing of license renewals and applications would be delayed—causing hardship for the 2,500 medical school graduates expected to train at the state's residency programs this year.

Introduced by Rep. Chad Hays, a Republican from Danville in Central Illinois, House Bill 1001 calls for increasing physician fees to $500 for a three-year license (up from $300) and transferring $9.6 million from the state's general fund into the medical disciplinary fund. The ISMS has said the state redirected more than $9 million collected from physician license fees.

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“Without immediate action, Illinois stands to lose physician recruits and medical residents who are interested in training here,” Dr. William Werner, ISMS president, said in a news release. “Graduating medical students are currently ranking their preferences for medical residency positions that begin this summer.”

Medical students have until Feb. 20 to submit their preferred locations for resident training. "Match Day," the day when students find out where they will be training, is March 15.

Manuel Flores, acting secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, warned of the medical unit cutbacks in a letter to healthcare professionals posted on his department's website. He blamed the cutbacks on medical-society lobbying that killed a previous bill that would have allowed the department to borrow $9.6 million from future license fees to cover the costs of operations.

Dr. Steven Malkin, ISMS board chairman, responded with a “dear colleagues” letter repeating the society's claim that the department's shortfall was the result of diverting $9 million collected from license fees for other purposes. He predicted that “the certain result” of the crisis would be the raising the fee for a three-year license to $750.

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