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PRESS RELEASE – Springfield, IL – Jan. 01, 2016
As of January 1st 2016, legislation has gone into effect which requires insurance carriers to cover the services of state Registered Surgical Assistants who are not employed by hospitals or surgical centers. This new law is a tremendous benefit to both hospitals and patients alike. Due to the restrictions on the amount of work hours allowed to medical residents by law – combined with the lack of residents at non-teaching hospitals – a substantial void had existed over the past 20 years for highly trained and specialized surgical first assistants.
In 2003, Illinois became one of the first states in the nation to regulate nationally certified surgical assistants. Since that time, the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation has been issuing licenses to surgical assistants who graduate from an approved medical education, as well as those who pass a nationally certified exam on first assisting. Once the requirements have been met, the individual is then given the title of “Registered Surgical Assistant.”
A vast number of hospitals quickly found it much more cost effective to contract with these independent Registered Surgical Assistants, due to the fact that the hospitals do not have to pay their salary or provide their benefits directly; rather, the hospital can instead bill the insurance company directly for the Registered Surgical Assistant’s services. This is also beneficial from a quality assurance perspective, because the hospital and surgery center know that they will have highly trained professionals always available for both scheduled and emergency surgeries, meaning the surgeons won’t have to go through the trouble of finding a competent first assistant for themselves. Patients will also receive a higher level of care, because without a highly trained first assistant (with an established professional rapport with the surgeon), less than optimal results can occur; in some cases, the life of the patient can even be put at a tremendous risk without these services.
Public Act 99-0100 was sponsored by State Representative Dan Burke (D-Chicago) and State Senator Mike Noland (D-Elgin).