Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have already discussed the recent landmark Illinois Supreme Court decision, Lebron v. Gottlieb (Ill. Feb 4, 2010), which held that legislative caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases were unconstitutional. This decision was a huge victory to those fighting on behalf of individuals and family members of those critically injured or killed each year by preventable medical errors.
Although the Lebron decision was a big win for Chicago medical malpractice attorneys and their clients, the decision also had a negative impact on patient rights — invalidating important medical malpractice regulatory reforms (“the 2005 Reform Laws”). The Court held that because there was an “inseverability provision” in the Act in which the caps were enacted, the entire Act was invalid based on the unconstitutionality of the damage caps provision. The Court emphasized that the legislature “remains free to reenact” certain provisions, including the 2005 Reform Laws, if “it deems appropriate.”
On February 20, 2010, the Illinois Department of Insurance issued a press release, which “Encourages Insurers to Comply with 2005 Medical Malpractice Reforms.” The 2005 Reform Laws imposed changes to the Illinois Insurance Code that improved insurer reporting and transparency requirements and enhanced the Department of Insurance’s rate oversight authority. In other words, the 2005 Reform Laws are critical to fairness and transparency in the medical malpractice insurance industry.
Since 2005, the Department has observed and documented improvements in the medical malpractice market, including a reduction in medical malpractice premiums, an increase in competition among insurance companies, and entry into Illinois of new insurance companies offering medical malpractice insurance.
Therefore, “given the public interest served by improved stability and affordability of medical malpractice insurance in Illinois, the Department of Insurance requests “continued, voluntary compliance by insurers” with the 2005 Reform Laws, including:
- Timely responses to request for information necessary to determine how rates are set and the reasonableness of those rates;
- Provide the Department with the insurer’s base rates and a list of available insurance agents;
- Provide the Department with additional loss, claims, exposure and expense data as well as company-produced studies of reserves supporting Illinois medical malpractice business and company surplus;
- Continue offering insureds quarterly premium payment options;
- Continue offering insureds policies containing deductibles;
- Continue to submit rate and rule filings to the Department prior to proposed changes;
- Continue to offer discounts to insureds who agree to participate in risk management practices;
- Provide the Department with 180 days notice before discontinuing the writing of insurance
Meaningful insurance reform is critical to providing preventing unfair and predatory practices by the medical insurance industry. Also, the Illinois Department of Insurance must have continued access to this type of information to combat the baseless arguments from insurance lobbyists that medical malpractice litigation has a meaningful impact on medical insurance rates.
For a free consultation with a Chicago personal injury lawyer for Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.