Last week, the Chicago Tribune published a letter to the editor written by Peter Flowers, President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA). ITLA is a statewide organization whose members, including the Chicago injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti who represent injured workers and consumers. In his letter to the editor, Mr. Flowers addresses insurance reform following the Illinois Supreme Court’s recent ruling against arbitrary caps on victims’ compensation.
Mr. Flowers set the background by informing readers that this was the third time the issue of caps was before the court and the third time that the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the citizens’ right to seek just compensation. Following the decision, those who side with the insurance industry have had an unfavorable reaction to the Illinois Supreme Court ruling and in opposing its decision have spread fiction and chosen to ignore the facts of caps. Opposers state that the absence of caps caused an exodus of doctors from Illinois; however, the truth is that since 1963, the number of doctors in Illinois has increased.
Another piece of fiction that is often spread to readers statewide and physicians statewide is that insurance premiums for doctors rose because of the lack of caps on damages for medical mistakes. The truth is that the rise in insurance premiums has more to do with insurance company greed – the state’s largest medical malpractice insurer recorded profits of $124.2 million from 2006 through 2008. The little decrease that happened when the caps were in place occurred because of insurance reform and state mandates.
Most people often forget is that compensation for victims is not a “prize.” Illinois medical malpractice victims suffer from the medical mistakes for the rest of their lives; they deserve to seek justice. Mr. Flowers addresses that the solution to rising insurance premiums for physicians will happen by reforming the insurance industry. Reforms work and should be re-enacted so that doctors are not faced with unconscionable increases in their premiums while insurance companies make enormous profits. When insurance companies are held accountable, health care in Illinois will improve.