Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Eight, Eight, and Three. Those are the only numbers that you need to know to understand that the "lawsuit abuse crisis" in Madison County is an illusion.

The Sun-Times' Abdon Pallasch discovered that:
Of the 364 medical malpractice suits filed there since 1996, only eight resulted in verdicts against doctors or hospitals for a total of $3 million, or about $380,000 each.
Eight years, eight verdicts against healthcare providers and a total -- TOTAL -- of $3 million.

That's a "judicial hellhole"?
But with so few verdicts against doctors in Madison County, why do the insurance companies charge doctors so much?

"Madison County, St. Clair, Cook County, our rates are the highest, the same, in those three areas because our losses are the greatest in those three areas," said Dr. Alfred Clementi, a director of the state medical society's insurance group, which insures most of Madison County's and the state's doctors.

He said only eight verdicts against doctors in the last eight years seemed low to him. But those are the only verdicts the Verdict Reporter and the Illinois State Bar Association, working with the Madison County court clerk, were able to find.
So if there isn't actually a "legal abuse crisis" in Madison County, why are insurance rates driving doctors from Madison County?
"Illinois is notorious among insurance regulators not just for having weak regulations, but for ... the commissioner having just no authority to approve rates. Malpractice insurers in Illinois can charge whatever they want," said Jay Angoff, a former director of the Missouri Insurance Department.
Well, the lack regulatory safeguards would explain the graph accompanying Pallasch's story that shows that "ISMIE Mutual Insurance Co., which insures most doctors in Illinois, including Madison County, has collected higher premiums from the doctors it insures even as its claim payouts have remained constant or risen slightly."

But if there isn't a "legal abuse crisis" that is driving doctors out of Madison County, why is President Bush there to propose legislation that would prohibit juries from awarding more than $250,000 to victims of medical malpractice for pain and suffering?

The answer to that question is in the second to last paragraph of Pallasch's story:
Bush will also propose limits on lawsuits against corporations
Ahhh... So this "legal abuse crisis" is being fabricated to provide cover for Bush's plan to shield multi-national corporations from lawsuits filed by people they have harmed. Well, that tactic certainly looks certainly familiar.

It's just like when a fictional "weapons of mass destruction" threat provided cover for Bush's plan to invade Iraq, or when the public dread of a "death tax" was manufactured to rally support for elimination of the estate tax (which affected less than 2 percent of taxpayers.) I'm sure that you can think of a few of your own.

How many times are Americans going to fall for -- and let others fall for -- Bush's bait-and-switch scare tactics?

(all emphasis added)

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