PEORIA- Recent state cuts mean doctors could be waiting more than year to renew their licenses.
Eric Lomax is a surgeon and president of the Peoria Medical Association.
"It's a shame for the state to divert funds away and then put you, the rest of the citizens in this area at risk," Lomax said about the state budget cuts that are affecting the department that licenses physicians.
Only one third of its staff is left, meaning the time it will take to process licenses more than doubles.
"Your regular family doctor that you see every year or more than once a year isn't going to be able to get heir license renewed. I think that's the real stickler in it. In another years time my license will be expired and I'll have to wait an additional three months before it can be renewed," Lomax said.
Lomax said the usual wait time could be 90 days, he said it could now be up to 15 months. It wont just hurt current physicians as most residencies start in July.
"The students that are graduating in three months basically can work under at institutional license for a short period of time and then they won't be able to practice until their official license comes through," Lomax said.
One of the issues at the heart of it is whether to raise the licensing fee from $300 to $750. That could help make up for budget cuts in the state's licensing department. Lomax said some physicians argue that the states shouldn't have cut that department in the first place.
"It's very frustrating. We've seen this coming and we knew it was going to be a problem and the state wants to help but doesn't have the assets to help," he said.
He says worst case scenario, "there'll be no doctors, we'll be sitting around doing nothing."
Lomax said he hopes the state comes up with a solution before then. There is a bill that would raise the licensing fee and move money from the Local Government Tax Fund to the Illinois State Medical Disciplinary Fund; it's being discussed by the House.
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