In the wake of President Bush’s visit to Collinsville, Illinois on Wednesday and his address focusing on the urgent need for medical liability reform, Illinois hospital leaders are urging the President, Congress, the Governor and the General Assembly to enact meaningful solutions to alleviate the crisis that threatens access to quality health care for all Illinoisans.
“We commend the President for coming to our state and addressing this critical health care issue,” said Kenneth Robbins, president of the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA). “All across the state, doctors and hospitals are facing skyrocketing medical liability premiums and excessive verdicts that are driving doctors away and jeopardizing services that hospitals provide to their communities. In our highly mobile society, if you happen to be in a part of the state where there are no neurosurgeons and are injured in a traffic accident, critical help could be hours away – the difference between life and death.”
Illinois is one of 20 states cited by the American Medical Association as “states in crisis” where the medical liability crisis is endangering health care. The average annual medical liability premiums paid by Illinois hospitals has increased by 84 percent in just two years, from $1.5 million in 2001 to $2.8 million in 2003.
Because of skyrocketing premiums and excessive verdicts, 70 percent of hospitals are self-insured, with many reportedly having to set aside tens of millions of dollars each year to fund their liability costs. Those scarce resources are not available to hospitals to hire more nurses, provide care to the indigent, obtain new technology or make facility improvements.
“This crisis needs to be addressed on the national and state levels, and we call on the Governor and General Assembly, as well as the Congress, to take action now,” said Robbins. “IHA and the hospital community have offered several constructive and meaningful proposals — including caps on non- economic damages and annuities to more efficiently provide for future medical and life care of injured plaintiffs.”
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