News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
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For Immediate Release

Date:  May 30, 2005/tia

Senate sends the Governor Medical Malpractice reform measure

Springfield, IL – After a lengthy debate in both the House and the Senate, a comprehensive medical malpractice reform legislation has been approved and is now headed to the Governor’s desk, according to Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).

The legislation (SB 475) provides comprehensive medical, insurance and legal reforms. In addition, the agreement places a cap of $500,000 on doctors and a $1 million cap on hospitals for non-economic damages.

Specifically, the legislation creates a website where patients can find out information on medical malpractice lawsuits filed against Illinois physicians. The measure also will increase the number of medical investigators and coordinators, and will increase competition in the medical insurance market. In terms of legal reforms, the bill raises the standards medical malpractice suits must meet before moving forward as a means of preventing frivolous lawsuits, and it allows doctors to apologize to patients without those statements being used against them.

“As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have been a part of the negotiations on this issue since the very beginning,” Roskam said. “The major differences have centered on the legal reforms and the two sides of the issue were making very little progress. But in the end, the grassroots efforts of doctors and patients made a difference, and we finally got a compromise that will, in time, bring doctors back to the state.”

Roskam noted that in the past five days, 58 medical malpractice cases have been filed in Cook County alone. That number is almost four times the number of suits normally filed.

“We cannot dismiss the passage of this legislation as the end of the fight for medical malpractice reform,” Roskam said. “These lawsuits filed will not be impacted by this legislation and so it will take awhile for insurance premiums to decrease. Plus, the law itself is more than likely headed for a court challenge. So, there is a lot of work ahead.”

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