The Illinois Senate has approved a bill that would increase payouts for verdicts in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
The bill tacks on 6% prejudgment interest to what victims can collect.
Bob Panton, an ophthalmologist in the Chicago suburb of Elmwood Park, is president of the Illinois State Medical Society.
Panton said the bill will drive medical providers out of Illinois because of higher liability costs.
“Half of the resident (physicians) that are trained in Illinois, they leave to go to other states because it’s a better medical climate,” Panton said. “Those are the kind of things that happen when you significantly affect the medical lability system.”
Panton added the interest charges could be significant as many malpractices cases take years before a judgement is reached.
Panton said he fears Illinois could see a liability crisis similar to what happened two decades ago when central and southern Illinois experienced a major shortage of doctors that specialize in neurosurgery and obstetrics.
The bill passed in the Senate, 37-17, after the Illinois House approved the bill.
ISMS urged Gov. JB Pritzker to veto the bill. The governor on Thursday vetoed a similar measure that called for 9% interest payments and also applied to out-of-court settlements.
Pritzker said in his veto statement he supports pretrial interest, but added the higher rate ”would be burdensome for hospitals and medical professionals beyond the national norm, potentially driving up healthcare costs for patients and deterring physicians from practicing in Illinois.”
According to Capitol News Illinois, 46 states already have some from pretrial interest.
Panton estimated the previous bill which Pritzker vetoed would have increased medical liability costs 72% for Chicago-area doctors and 52% for physicians downstate. He did not have data available for the newer bill. He said it simply "moved around a few words and numbers."
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