Illinois' medical liability reform law keeps on working
Travis Akin Mar. 22, 2009, 6:28am
Four years ago, Illinois was on the brink of a healthcare disaster. Medical malpractice insurance rates were skyrocketing and doctors were leaving Illinois in droves to practice medicine in states with a more balanced legal system.
Patients were tired of seeing their doctors leave and they put pressure on lawmakers to make a change. Eventually, lawmakers stood up to the personal injury lawyers and approved some much-needed legal reforms.
By all accounts the law is working. Insurance rates have stabilized and hospitals are having success recruiting doctors. In fact, Southern Illinois Healthcare has just announced the hiring of a second neurosurgeon to work at their Carbondale facility.
The loss of both of their neurosurgeons in 2004 meant the only way Southern Illinois residents could receive treatment for brain and spine trauma was to be flown to other hospitals in other states.
Today, there are two neurosurgeons providing 24-hour coverage at a Carbondale hospital, and just a few miles east, Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion welcomed a neurosurgeon of its own last month.
Can there be any doubt that the medical malpractice reform law is working the way in which it was intended?
Despite these successes, the Illinois Supreme Court could overturn the medical malpractice reform law in the near future. No one can accurately predict what the Court will do, but the last thing Illinois needs is another healthcare crisis.
As if the concern about the fate of the medical malpractice reform law were not enough, personal injury lawyers are quietly pushing a bill that could lead to a further hemorrhaging of jobs in Illinois. Specifically, Senate Bill 184 requires defendants in civil lawsuits to pay prejudgment interest on damage awards, and the clock starts ticking the moment the claim is filed.
Dubbed, the "Lawsuit Stimulus" bill, Senate Bill 184 would encourage more people to file lawsuits and would put more money into the pockets of personal injury lawyers and would make it more difficult to attract new jobs and opportunities to Illinois.
Illinois is already ranked 46th out of 50 states for judicial fairness according to a report from the Harris polling company. We simply cannot afford to make a bad problem even worse, and yet that is exactly what would happen if the Illinois Supreme Court rolls back the medical malpractice reform law and lawmakers pass SB 184.
It is time for Illinois residents to take a stand for fairness in our courts. The future of our healthcare and our economy depends on it.