Citizen Action: Justify new insurance rate increases on doctors after award caps

“We look forward to the positive effects this legislation will have on access to health care services. Every patient and physician in Illinois should be happy to know that positive change is on the way.”—Craig A. Backs, M.D., president of the Illinois State Medical Sociey, Aug. 25, 2005

SPRINGFIELD—As of Sept. 27, Citizen Action/Illinois testified in front of the Illinois Division of Insurance at a hearing regarding the request by ISMIE Mutual Insurance to raise insurance premiums. In testimony by Policy Director Brent Adams, Citizen Action/Illinois called on ISMIE to explain how its proposed rate increase was consistent with its claim that the law imposing caps on non-economic damages (Public Act 94-0677) would increase the public’s access to quality, affordable health care. Citizen Action/Illinois also called on ISMIE to abide by Illinois law and provide data showing how it sets rates for medical malpractice insurance.

“One month ago, the president of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) said ‘every patient and physician should be happy to know that positive change is on the way’ as a result of legislation (now law) imposing caps on non-economic damage awards,” said Lynda DeLaforgue, co-director, Citizen Action/Illinois. “Yet today, every patient and every doctor should be very concerned that ISMIE wants to make health care in Illinois even more expensive for doctors and less accessible for patients.”

Citizen Action/Illinois, along with many other advocacy organizations, including the Illinois AFL-CIO and AARP, opposed the caps bill. This opposition was based on the fact that the bill curtailed the rights of patients while offering no guarantee that medical malpractice premiums would decline.

“ISMIE’s position appears to be that it should reap the financial windfall that comes from not having to pay out damages to victims, but doctors should have to shell out even more money to fill ISMIE’s coffers, said DeLaforgue.

There is one small bright spot to the new law. It requires insurance companies to file data with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) showing how medical malpractice rates are set. Citizen Action/Illinois called on ISMIE to file all relevant data so policymakers, doctors and the public can finally see how ISMIE justifies its rate increases.

From the Oct. 5-11, 2005, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!