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IPS Advocacy Day

IPS Goes to Springfield every year for a full day Advocacy Event.  Below is an article and photos from the 2017 Advocacy Day event as appeared in the IPS newletter. 

Details about the 2018 Advocacy Day Event will be coming soon.

IPS Goes to Springfield…for our annual Advocacy Day event
By Joshua Nathan, MD

On a dreary  April 5th day, Illinois Psychiatry Society general members, residents and attending physicians from all over Illinois had a successful and fun day in Springfield educating Illinois legislators about important pending medical legislation.  We advocated for passage of two consumer protection bills, and against passage of one mental health regulatory bill.   We met with our wonderful lobbyist Betsy Mitchell, who organized the day, including scheduling meetings with mental health champions Rep. Lou Lang and Rep. Sara Feigenholtz.  We met with several representatives and senators throughout the day, and even had a brush with fame during a chance encounter with Miss Illinois.  We ended the day with a cocktail hour of drinks and hors d’oeuvres for our group and legislator guests.

Hiking hither and thither around the Capitol and Stratton Building, we supported a bill to protect consumer access to medical care and a bill to strengthen mental health parity.  With HB 311, the Network Adequacy Bill, we encouraged members of the Illinois General Assembly to vote in favor of requiring health plans to provide accurate provider information, to build sufficient provider networks, and to protect patients from care disruption when networks change.  We strongly endorsed an amended HB 68, a bill sponsored by Lou Lang (D), which revises the current mental health parity provisions of the Heroin Crisis Act in several ways.  It expands the definition of mental illness as anything in the most recent version of the DSM or ICD diagnostic systems, clarifies that Medication Assisted Treatment medical necessity guidelines should be the same as ASAM criteria, details how the Illinois Department of Insurance and other agencies must enforce the law, and allows consumers and providers to pursue action against plans for MH/SUD parity violations.

While getting in our steps around Springfield, we urged legislators to vote against HB 281, a bill sponsored by House Assistant Majority Leader Mary Flowers, which requires redundant regulation and compliance standards around the prescribing of psychotropic medication for foster children.

Over 40 members and resident-members participated in the daylong event, covering about 19 representative districts and 17 senatorial districts.  Participants at Advocacy Day in Springfield represented the following settings: private practice, academia, forensics, child and adolescent, and general practice psychiatry.  They led 6 teams of resident-members from Rush, UICOMP, Northwestern, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola Medical School, and Rosalind Franklin.  Ryan Finkenbine, MD, Susan Scherer, MD, Jeffrey Bennett, MD, Arden Barnett, MD, Joshua Nathan, MD, and Meryl Sosa led the teams on our lobbying efforts.

Although our planned sit-down with Rep. Lou Lang and Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, organized by Ms. Mitchell, succumbed to the predictably unpredictable whimsy of a legislative session and was cancelled, our teams made the most of it, managing to meet with most of the legislators we intended.  We even learned, during a break, by observing government in action from the Gallery as our elected officials in the House voted on bill after bill.  The day ended with a meet and greet over drinks and appetizers at the IPS Advocacy Day Reception at Maldaner’s Restaurant.  Sen. Pat McGuire and Rep. Robert Pritchard paid us a visit to thank us for our efforts and learn more about IPS’s interests.  Ryan Finkenbine and the UICOMP residents got to meet with Rep. Feigenholtz after all, when she came a little later to the reception.

As always, we owe special thanks to Kristen Malloy for her coordination of the event, and to Meryl Sosa for her tireless and expert leadership and guidance.  We also owe an extra thank you this year to lobbyist Betsy Mitchell, for organizing meetings, for educating our group about ways of Springfield, and for providing her timely political expertise to the whole event.

We had a great turnout and a great time this year.  It was, this year as every year, an exciting, educational, and meaningful day of advocating for health care and for psychiatry, for our patients and our communities.  We hope we can get an even bigger crowd for next year, as there is certainly strength in numbers. 

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