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Chicago Pharmacist LawyerDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have been included in legislation creating a tax holiday for health professionals and first responders who continue to serve. The “Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Emergency Situations” (HEROES) Act of 2020 did not originally include pharmacists as beneficiaries, but they have since been added.

The original bill only applied to physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, hospital and medical facility support staff, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, corrections officers, and law enforcement officers. The hope is that the legislation will be added to the next congressional COVID-19 legislative package so pharmacists have peace of mind.

What does the federal tax holiday mean? It would suspend federal tax withholding for four months and give the government the authority to extend withholding for an additional three months. It applies to all income up to $150,000 annually.

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Chicago Pharmacist LawyerPharmacists are on the front line of patient health during a pandemic like COVID-19, and one of the main reasons is that patients, prescribers, and pharmacies do not know how the virus will impact the future of the international supply chain and drug manufacturing. Some believed that allowing patients to ‘stockpile’ larger than usual quantities of their prescription medications could cause drug shortages. Now, the DEA is more concerned with making sure patients have access to medications during the shelter-in-place orders.

Although the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, along with the Pharmacy Board, have not entered the fray, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (Medicaid) provided for an override code for Refill Too Soon. This allows a 90-day supply for insulin and waives signature requirements for receipt of prescriptions. It remains to be seen if additional actions will occur by state government.

While the DEA is easing requirements, pharmacies should advocate for insurers to relax rules, too. CMS reminded Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D sponsors of their inherent flexibility to remove prior authorizations requirements, waive prescription refill limits, and relax other restrictions. Pharmacists should recommend to patients (and possibly caregivers) to check prescription benefit coverages regarding early refills and supply limits.

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Chicago Primary Care Physician LawyerDo I have to disclose my criminal record to IDFPR? Can my criminal record impact my medical license?

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation can and will find out about your criminal record, whether you are about to submit an application for physician licensure by endorsement or examination, or about to renew your existing medical license, or recently convicted and unsure of your next steps.

Will IDFPR and the Illinois Medical Licensing Board or the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board revoke your license? Will you have any lesser impact of discipline on your license? The answers depend on what you were or are charged with, what the eventual charge to which you pleaded guilty was (or found guilty by a judge or jury), and what kind of sentence was imposed by the criminal court.

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Illinois Primary Care Physician LawyerSocial media has seeped its ways into every facet of our lives of the last decade, even our jobs. The question then becomes, how much, if any, should doctors be using their platforms? And if so, how? Some could make the argument that, especially for private practice, it helps grow their customer base. Others would argue that it is not something to be promoted, and the patient’s confidentiality is at risk.

The benefits of posting on social media are evident in some respect. Doctors, physicians, and osteopaths, especially those who are paid on the amount they bill, can use social media to gain patients. A surgeon might consider whether they can post a surgery they did that day to promote themselves or even to provide teaching opportunities for young doctors. Doing so is dangerous – patient confidentiality laws go very deep, and Illinois law also prohibits the use of a person’s image without consent for commercial purposes. Know also that some health care professionals have been called before IDFPR professional boards to answer for their posting of x-rays and other imaging on social media, when the intent was only to show how ‘not to do’ a procedure.

Some physicians, especially those in residency, have been known to use their social media platform to vent. This can help with some of the problems that have been known to cause physician burnout. But the same rules apply, don’t post anything about your patients, with the caveat that your residency program may take issue with specific types of ‘venting.’

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Illinois Primary Care Physician AttorneyPrimary Care Physicians are becoming increasingly hard to find, and the wait time to see them is getting longer and longer (30% longer between 2014 and 2017, according to Merritt Hawkins). Wait times are up to around 24 days per visit. Even worse, in rural areas primary care physicians are almost becoming non-existent.

The question becomes, is it because fewer medical and osteopathic school students want to go into the profession? And if so, why? The demand for these doctors is increasing every day, but there is still a need. One of the most speculated reasons for this is the pay. Primary Care Physicians are among the lowest-paid physicians in the United States, and with mounting school debt, students find themselves more interested in the higher paid positions.

The Washington Post noted in 2019 that “the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of between 21,100 and 55,200 primary care physicians by 2032.” It goes on to state “studies have shown that states with a higher ratio of primary care physicians have better health and lower rates of mortality. Patients who regularly see a primary care physician also have lower health costs than those without one.”

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