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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.