Letter to the Editor: Don't credit caps

Belleville News Democrat
Friday, August 29, 2008

Your editorial Aug. 11, "Keep medical system healthy," gets it wrong. The "liability insurance crisis" in this state, as around the country, was caused not by legal system excesses but by the economic cycle of the insurance industry. The flattening of insurance rates has nothing to do with the draconian and unconstitutional caps enacted here, which were almost immediately struck down by the lower court, but rather to modulations in the insurance cycle.

In addition, stronger insurance industry regulation and oversight, which were instituted in 2005, also have helped. But don't just take our word for it. The Department of Insurance and even insurance companies have said that insurance regulation -- not caps -- is what has increased competition and lowered rates in Illinois.

Caps do nothing but stop the most severely injured patients from getting compensation. They apply no matter how egregious the misconduct or devastating the injury. And they have been shown to disproportionately hurt minorities, woman and children. Clearly, juries are better able to determine compensation in individual cases than politicians in Springfield.

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down, twice before, similar types of brutal limits on patients' rights. We hope it continues to uphold the Illinois constitution and allow injured children and their families to be adequately compensated for a lifetime of harm caused by gross medical negligence.

Jason L. Held
Staff Director, Center for Justice & Democracy-Illinois Chicago

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