Tort reform waiting for governor's OK

Belleville News-Democrat
Thursday, June 30, 2005

Medical malpractice insurance reform finally made its way to the governor's desk on Wednesday, nearly one month after state legislators narrowly approved it.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- who previously resisted the provisions capping noneconomic damages included in the bill -- is expected to sign the legislation this month. A specific date and place have yet to be set, Blagojevich spokesman Rebecca Rausch said.
"The governor will be signing the bill," Rausch said. "We'll be making a bunch of health care announcements this month and medical malpractice is part of that mix."
Most local legislators expect the bill signing ceremony to take place somewhere in the metro-east, an area of the state hit particularly hard by skyrocketing costs of medical malpractice insurance. Local researchers previously found a net loss of 136 physicians in the past two years.
The bill's provisions would go a long way to cutting that number down, advocates said. It increases insurance regulation, enacts stricter discipline for bad doctors and caps "pain and suffering" awards at $1 million in cases against hospitals and $500,000 against physicians.
Opponents of the legislation say the measures go too far.
"There's certainly stuff in the bill that's good, but if there's no promise this will reduce premiums why are we doing it?" said Doug Wojcieszak, a Victims and Families United spokesman.

"I don't think he's going to change his mind, but we need to make sure the public knows what's going on," said Amber Hard, a Center for Justice and Democracy spokesman. "We're clearly needed here."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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