IHA Daily Briefing: June 11

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Committee Hears Pleas for Ordinance Exemption
Rep. Schneider’s Bill Addresses Physician Shortages
IDPH Measles Webinar June 13 at Noon

Committee Hears Pleas for Ordinance Exemption
IHA President & CEO A.J. Wilhelmi testified yesterday at a City of Chicago Workforce Development and Audit Committee hearing on the Fair Workweek ordinance. He urged the committee to exclude hospitals from the ordinance, stressing that “Hospitals save lives every hour, every day – and are ready to handle any situation, on a moment’s notice, often under very stressful, unpredictable, and unplanned circumstances. No one can predict when there will be a mass casualty incident, natural disaster, chemical spill, or major traffic accident 10 days or 14 days in advance – situations that bring on sudden and large surges of sick or injured patients needing immediate, emergency care. Wilhelmi said, “Hospitals are not like retail or fast food outlets, or any other industry. Providing a full range of healthcare services is incredibly complex and requires enormous flexibility and coordination of staff, resources, procedures and activities.”

Wilhelmi pointed out national precedent on work scheduling ordinances that exclude hospitals. “The importance of flexible scheduling for hospitals is also recognized elsewhere around the country.  Hospitals have been exempted from work scheduling ordinances in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C., and the state of Oregon.”

Chicago hospital leaders testifying along with Wilhelmi were Rashard Johnson, president, Advocate Trinity Hospital; Deatra Howard, vice president and chief nursing officer, The Loretto Hospital: Robert Nelson, chief nursing officer, Norwegian American Hospital; and Brian Radakovitz, regional director, facilities, AMITA Health.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended the committee hearing. In remarks made to the media, Lightfoot indicated that she generally supports the proposal but says that talks need to continue to resolve key stakeholder issues.

Earlier in the day, key members of the Work Your Way Coalition, which includes IHA and 35 other members in favor of flexible scheduling options in Chicago, participated in a press conference at City Hall. The Coalition also issued a press release focused on the numerous problems mandated scheduling would bring to a variety of employers.

See IHA’s fact sheet and letter to the workforce committee for more details.

Rep. Schneider’s Bill Addresses Physician Shortages
U.S. Rep. Bradley Schneider (IL-10) introduced IHA-supported legislation, which seeks to increase the number of physicians available to work in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas or Medically Underserved Areas, by extending and expanding the Conrad 30 J-1 visa program.

The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2895) would allow state health departments to request J-1 visa waivers for up to 35 foreign physicians per year to work in federally designated shortage areas. The program was first enacted in 1994, and the current extension of the program expires later this year without Congressional action.

“The American medical education system attracts top international talent and produces the best-trained graduates in the world,” said Congressman Brad Schneider in a press release. “It makes no sense and is, in fact, irresponsible to force these highly-skilled new doctors out of the country at a time when many of our communities struggle to meet the demand for qualified physicians. Extending the Conrad 30 visa waiver program is a commonsense step that both parties can support to help more Americans have access to quality health care practitioners in their communities.”

The bipartisan legislation was introduced late last month along a Senate companion bill (S. 948), which was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-MA) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV). The legislation is also supported by the American Hospital Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges, among others.

IDPH Measles Webinar June 13 at Noon
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) will hold a measles immunization briefing for providers tomorrow, June 13, at 12 p.m. Jennifer Layden, M.D., chief medical officer, IDPH, will discuss the current measles situation nationally and statewide, the presentation of measles – classic and atypical, diagnosis, vaccine guidance, infection prevention, and how to handle suspect cases.

Register for this free webinar using the password “Providers2019.” Questions can be emailed to dph.immunizations@illinois.gov.