Friday, February 5, 2010

Malpractice Lawsuit Limits Overturned in Illinois.

The New York Times is reporting on overturn of the five-year-old law limiting medical malpractice lawsuit awards. To my mind, limiting awards is wrong - an overreach of the legislature into the judicial branch's territory.

Such limits, however popular among the Right (unnatural and rhetorical opponents of individual rights) do little to bring down the costs of health care in the US. It's a cheap ruse to distract from the real causes of our over-priced, ineffective system. Limiting awards is like putting a band aid on your sore, blistered heal because you refuse to give up the cheap shoes that are causing the damage. All it does is inhibit patients' rights in favor of the medical industry.

If lawsuits are a problem, perhaps we'd be best to understand why they occur (examine the cheap shoe) and stop penalizing the patient victims?

From the story:

The ruling came down as federal proposals to cap malpractice awards are receiving fresh attention on Capitol Hill. Republicans enthusiastically support the limits, and they are seen as a potential vehicle for restarting the stalled health care negotiations in Congress with bipartisan impetus. Neither the House bill that Democrats passed late last year nor its Senate counterpart included significant changes to medical malpractice regulations.

In a 4-to-2 ruling, the Illinois court wrote that the legislature, in enacting the 2005 law, violated the state Constitution’s separation of powers clause by imposing decisions that should be reserved for judges and juries. The law established caps of $500,000 for non-economic damages in verdicts against doctors and $1 million in cases against hospitals.

The decision armed opponents of such provisions with fresh ammunition, and held a particular sting for the American Medical Association, which has its headquarters in Chicago.

A statement from the American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, said the decision illustrated “why federal efforts to place arbitrary limits on the amount injured patients receive won’t pass muster or fix America’s broken health care system.” Nearly 30 states have laws that limit non-economic damages, although the caps and circumstances for imposing them vary widely. According to theAmerican Medical Association, courts in 16 states have upheld the laws, while those in 11 states have overturned them.

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