Illinois cuts slice into medical license program

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Illinois is slashing two-thirds of the staff that issues medical licenses. Health professionals warn it could have a dramatic impact on health care.

Dr. James Bull operates a practice with six doctors. From the Genesis Illini Campus, he worries about the state's decision.

"I fear that puts our patients' health care in jeopardy," he said.

After Illinois sliced more than $8 million from the Department of Professional Regulation, it could take 18 months instead of three months to renew his medical license.

"We need to have the state do its part as far as licensing of physicians," he said.

That concern over licensing reaches to the emergency room. It's where doctors and nurses give their all to treat patients.

"If it was this long before the cutbacks, it makes me fearful what are we going to end up with," said Trauma Coordinator Laura Carson.

Staffers worry it will hurt recruitment of medical professionals. It can be more convenient for doctors and nurses to work in another state.

"It will deter nurses from coming into Illinois," Carson continued. "They know they're going to have to wait a long time to get their license."

The decision also slows the state's ability to respond to medical complaints or license a variety of other professions. Just eight of 26 state workers remain in the department.

It's the kind of problem that needs a quick solution. Otherwise, Illinois faces a licensing logjam that could paralyze the state's medical care.

Dr. Bull worries that without the state doing its licensing job, there won't be enough doctors to care for patients.

"We need them to put the money back into the department," he concluded. "And only the state of Illinois can do that."

It's a prescription from Illini designed to provide quick, important relief.

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