Consumer Group and Medical Malpractice Survivors Call for Repeal of Caps in Light of New Information

Thursday, October 19, 2006

For Release:
October 19, 2006
Contact: Joanne Doroshow
Consumer Groups and Medical Malpractice Survivors Call for Repeal of Caps in Light of New Information
Chicago, IL –The Center for Justice & Democracy-IL and malpractice survivors from around the state today called on Illinois lawmakers to repeal the “caps,” or limits, on compensation for medical malpractice victims, enacted last year. Their request for repeal comes in the wake of new information that, increased regulation of the insurance industry, not caps on compensation, is leading now to a reduction in doctors’ insurance costs.
The Illinois Division of Insurance announced last Friday that an Illinois malpractice insurer, Berkshire Hathaway’s MedPro, will be expanding its coverage and cutting premiums for doctors by more than 30 percent. According to state officials, this is made possible because of new insurance reforms enacted by Illinois lawmakers last year, and not the cap on compensation for patients that was enacted at the same time.  The law requires malpractice insurers to disclose data on how to set their rates.  This, according to Michael McRaith, director of the state’s Division of Insurance allows MedPro to “set rates that are more competitive than they could have set before.”
In a letter sent to Governor Blagojevich and Illinois House and Senate leaders today, several victims and family members hurt by medical malpractice state that MedPro’s announcement undermines the principal basis on which caps were enacted  - to reduce doctor’s insurance rates.  At the time, consumer groups presented evidence that caps would not accomplish this. The letter points out that the rate reduction is only happening “because of the state’s stronger insurance regulation.” The malpractice survivors asked lawmakers to “repeal the cruel cap on compensation”, saying that “the cap is both harmful and ineffective and should not be law in Illinois.”
“The Illinois cap is devastating for families like mine who have suffered catastrophic injuries,” said Donna Harnett, whose son, Martin, developed cerebral palsy after a delivery-related injury. “If there had been a law then like the one that exists now, it would have torn our family apart and my son would be in an institution.”
The day after the medical malpractice law was signed, the Division of Insurance called in ISMIE, Illinois’ largest insurer, for a hearing, calling its rate increases on certain physicians “problematic.”  After a series of meetings, the DOI ordered ISMIE to lower their rates by 3.5%.
A full copy of the letter from medical malpractice victims to the Illinois legislature can be found at

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