The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Opinion

February 21, 2010

State rules on side of citizens

Peter J. Flowers is president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.



Recently the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against placing arbitrary caps on victims’ compensation. This was the third time the issue was before the court, and the third straight time the court has ruled in favor of the citizens of our state.

The court is to be applauded for its defense of the ordinary citizen, but unfortunately there are some who do not share this sentiment.

The issue of medical malpractice is complex, and in order to understand all of its elements it is vitally important to separate fact from fiction.

However, those who side with the insurance industry have had an unfavorable reaction to the decision and in opposing the decision, they have chosen to ignore the facts and instead spread fiction.

Stating that the absence of caps caused an exodus of doctors from Illinois is pure fiction. The hard fact is that since 1963 the number of doctors in Illinois has increased. Where is the exodus if every year for the past 47 years has been marked by a gain in physicians statewide?

The fiction is that insurance premiums for doctors rose because of the need to compensate patients whose lives have been forever changed by medical mistakes.

The fact is the rise in premiums has more to do with insurance company greed than it does with compensation for victims. Exhibit A in this rogue’s gallery is ISMIE, the state’s largest medical malpractice insurer who recorded profits of $124.2 million from 2006 through 2008.

It is not correct to say insurance premiums fell because of caps on victim compensation; it is correct to say what little decrease occurred happened because of insurance reform and state mandates.

Insurance companies such as ISMIE didn’t reduce what they charge doctors until they were forced to by the state, despite racking up those enormous profits.

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