-Illinois
6:03 am
Wed January 16, 2013

State Makes Cuts to Agency that Regulates Doctors

Illinois doctors could soon face a long wait to get a medical license. And complaints about illegal activity by doctors could take longer to investigate. The state agency that regulates doctors is laying off 18 of 26 workers. Spokeswoman Sue Hofer says it means the state will not be able to investigate complaints as quickly as it normally would.

Credit Illinois.gov

Hofer also says there's a more immediate problem: a crop of new med school grads start residency every summer, and last year, Illinois issued them 2,800 temporary licenses. Now, there's just one person to do that job.

Dr. William Werner is the president of the Illinois State Medical Society. He says delays in licensing could affect staffing at teaching hospitals and clinics across Illinois. He says the problem is that doctors' license fees were swept away to fund other, unrelated functions of state government.

"If the physician's license fee is used to replenish that fund, what's the guarantee that it wouldn't be swept away in the future?" - Dr. William Werner

The state says doctors should pay higher license fees to make up the difference. Doctors say their fees are adequate, and the state should restore money it previously shifted from fees to pay for other priorities.

Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey contributed to this report.