Luechtefeld introduces amendment to keep high court from overturning 'caps'

By Ann Knef | Feb 23, 2010


State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) has introduced a constitutional amendment to keep the Illinois Supreme Court from overturning future medical malpractice reform laws.

"Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 103 would afford the necessary protection for any future medical malpractice laws passed by the General Assembly," Luechtefeld said in a statement. "The Amendment will allow the General Assembly to construct much-needed medical malpractice legislation and assist in the prevention of future court decisions overturning the will of the people."

The state's high court on Feb. 4 knocked down a 2005 law that capped medical malpractice damage awards.

SJRCA 103 would add a new section to Article 4 of the Illinois Constitution which regulates the legislature. The new section would find that lawmakers can seek to pass legislation that places limitations on liability for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Luechtefeld said that lawmakers had hoped that their bi-partisan efforts in 2005 had addressed the constitutional issues surrounding two earlier attempts to pass reform.

"I fear that we may see yet another exodus of medical providers to surrounding states. The 2005 legislation protected access for patients," Luechtefeld concluded. "Passage of SJRCA 103 will allow voters to have the chance to enable legislators to take appropriate action to limit non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. This could prevent another Illinois Supreme Court decision that jeopardizes patient access to health care."

SJRCA 103 was introduced on Feb. 18 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Assignments.

The measure could face tough opposition in a Democratically-controlled state legislature. Democrats reluctantly went along with medical malpractice reform in 2005, only after a groundswell of public support.

But if SJRCA 103 passes, the amendment would go to voters in November.

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