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Layoffs Planned for Doctor Watchdogs

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) - Investigators who look into complaints against Illinois doctors are being warned layoffs will start in January unless the Legislature raises doctor licensing fees.  

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation says staff members are being informed about the layoffs Thursday afternoon. Eighteen positions are targeted for elimination, including more than half the investigators.  Spokeswoman Susan Hofer says doubling the load would slow down investigations and prosecutions of doctor misconduct. 

Salaries in the watchdog unit are funded entirely from the license fees doctors pay. No tax dollars are involved. Doctors now pay what amounts to $100 a year to be licensed. Fees haven't increased since 1987.  The state licensing agency has been seeking an increase in physician licensing fees for five years without result.

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