LOCAL FOOTBALL SCORING UPDATES PRESENTED BY THE HUNGRY HOBO:

Illinois Senate OKs doctors' license fees increase


Share
Originally Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013, 4:57 pm
Last Updated: Feb. 15, 2013, 8:32 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Senate approved a measure Thursday to raise physicians' licensing fees to $700 to help the state rehire workers who license and investigate doctors.

The Senate voted 38-19 on the bill in an attempt to retire a deficit in the medical unit of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation by temporarily raising a three-year doctor's license to $700. The unit's budget woes forced more than half of the department's medical watchdog staff to be laid off last month.

Illinois officials and doctors have been at odds for months over how to adequately and fairly fund the unit. While both sides acknowledge that physicians' license fees should increase, they cannot agree on how much. They also disagree on whether the department should take a short-term loan to rehire the 18 staffers that were let go Jan. 15.

The Senate proposal, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, now moves to the House for consideration. Separate legislation awaiting House action mimics the Senate measure in borrowing $6.6 million from a tax fund for rehiring staff. But the House version, sponsored by Speaker Michael Madigan, permanently raises the fee to $750.

However, Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, also took over sponsorship of Cullerton's bill after it arrived in the House on Thursday evening, an indication it has become the priority for addressing the problem.

Under the Senate measure, the three-year license — raised from $300 to $700 — is temporary. Payments would fall to $500 in July 2018 because Cullerton, another Chicago Democrat, believes the rate should only go up long enough to restore financial stability.

The increases under both proposals would allow the department to repay its loan.

The department supports both measures. But the Illinois State Medical Society has spoken against the borrowing provisions of both measures. The group's vice president, Jim Tierney, told a Senate committee Wednesday that the department should not borrow any money and that the state should instead pay the medical unit for money that previous administrations have taken out of its fund for other purposes.

The medical society would agree to a $500 fee for a three-year license, an increase that the association has previously suggested.

Manuel Flores, secretary of financial and professional regulation, said even if that money is restored, it would only keep the fund flush until 2016 so a higher increase is still necessary.

The $300, three-year fee physicians currently pay hasn't increased since 1987. The medical unit operates solely on doctors' fees.

If the House measure gets an OK and moves to the Senate, the competing bills potentially could both be approved and sent to the governor for him to decide. Typically, though, differing bills on the same subject become part of a House-Senate compromise.

But Madigan's sponsorship of the Senate option indicates he prefers it. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said Thursday evening he was unfamiliar with Madigan's action and could not immediately comment.

The medical community is urging legislators to fix the problem quickly. A deadline for medical school graduates to decide on residencies at teaching hospitals is Wednesday. Failure to reach a decision by then jeopardizes placements if Illinois cannot assure doctors-in-training they will be licensed to practice in the state before late summer when their jobs start.

Since the layoffs, processing times for licenses for physicians and medical residents have increased from 16 business days to six months, as only one employee is processing licensing applications.

Before the cutback, the medical unit each year processed nearly 2,600 license applications from new doctors and 2,300 temporary-license applications from medical residents. It also renewed almost 46,000 licenses for doctors every three years.

___

The bills are HB193 and SB622.

___

Online:

Illinois General Assembly: http://www.ilga.gov/
















 



Local events heading








  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.






(More History)