Justice for All
Patient's Rights & Insurance Reform
Citizen Action/Illinois strongly opposes any restrictions on an individual’s right to sue or limits on jury awards. The real malpractice crisis is not a lawsuit crisis; the real crisis is the children, women and men who have suffered from malpractice. These people are not just numbers on an actuary table, they are not just underwriting statistics and they are not just entries on an insurance profit-and-loss statement. These are real people who have suffered real pain. Patient safety facts.
Our message is clear, patients and their families deserve the right to hold the health care industry accountable when patients are killed or injured by malpractice and that by limiting patients' access to courts and the amount they can recover in a legitimate malpractice suit will not reduce health care costs but will set back efforts to deter future carelessness in the health industry.
If Congress and the state legislature really cared about making health care affordable to average Americans, they would offer real solutions that would have real impact such as ensuring that hospitals and nursing homes are fully staffed, that care is improved so that there are fewer errors, that incompetent doctors are fully disciplined, and that insurance companies are made to open their books and justify rate increases.
The fact is, caps on jury awards don’t work. States that protect patients’ legal rights actually have more doctors per patient than states that have caps, and health care costs have been rising just as fast in states that have caps as they have in states that protect the rights of malpractice victims. While Illinois doctors did see a $20 million rebate in their premiums, those rebates were not precipitated by caps, but ordered by state regulators when they determined that the state’s largest insurer was gouging doctors.
In February of 2010, the Illinois State Supreme court ruled for a third time that caps on medicial malpractice awards are not constitutional. As one of the state’s most established public interest groups, Citizen Action applauds this decision by the Illinois Supreme Court. Once again the people of Illinois can be assured that our civil justice system cannot be diminished by anti-consumer legislation that places arbitrary limits on compensation for victims of medical malpractice.
Citizen Action/Illinois is a partner in the Campaign for Safe Patient Care, and encourages Illinois residents to view the Illinois Hospital Report Card Act website, hosted by the Illinois Department of Public Health. This site, launched in November 2009, can provide people with information on the quality of care in hospitals and assist them in making informed health care choices. This is just one step that we can take to begin working together to improve patient safety.
Citizen Action/Illinois supports the right of same-sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license and to thereby enjoy the state and federal rights conferred by civil marriage. At the same time, Citizen Action/Illinois supports the rights of all religious faiths to choose which relationships to sanctify.
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection & Civil Union Act ensures that religious denominations are not forced to recognize or sanctify relationships they oppose, and helps establish basic fairness by extending state legal protections and responsibilities similar to marriage to all committed couples in Illinois. Under the Act, civil unions would be open to adult couples (including same-sex and opposite-sex couples) and afford these couples the state-level protections and responsibilities essential to all families. In short, this Act carves a path to state recognition of and protection for same-sex couples.
The Civil Union Act offers same-sex couples certain protections and responsibilities as are afforded to opposite-sex couples. The civil union license would permit same-sex partners the right to make emergency medical decisions, collect state spousal benefits, such as workers compensation and pension coverage, along with other basic privileges.
Civil unions are also beneficial for heterosexual senior couples and widows/widowers who avoid marrying because they may face reductions in the Social Security benefits that they need to survive. Being in a civil union would afford these couples the rights they need late in life, such as hospital visitation, emergency medical decision-making, shared nursing home rooms, and control over funeral arrangements.
Civil unions are good for the children of gay and lesbian people. Currently, when a parent in a same-sex relationship dies, the surviving partner and their children are not guaranteed pensions and other survivor benefits. This uncertainty is not good for children; it undermines their financial security and well being.
Civil unions promote self-sufficiency because couples will have the legal tools to care for one another.
Citizen Action/Illinois joins with “Allied for Equality,” a joint program between Equality Illinois (EQIL) and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).