CHICAGO-Several thousand physicians, some bused in from hundreds of miles away, gathered in Daley Plaza last week for a noontime rally to lobby federal lawmakers for new laws that would limit damages in malpractice lawsuits. The two-hour rally, organized by the Chicago Medical Society, the Illinois State Medical Society and the American Medical Association, was another in a long series of similar protests across the nation as physicians seek to change federal tort laws. Though the prospects are dim that Congress will approve a cap on damages this year, the national lobbying effort will continue until changes are made, vowed Richard Geline, president of the Chicago Medical Society. "We'll just have to keep up the pressure until it happens," he said.
CHICAGO-The largest medical malpractice insurer in Illinois, ISMIE Mutual Insurance Co., announced earlier this month an average annual base-rate increase of 35.2% for its 14,000 physician policyholders, effective in July. An obstetrician in Chicago, for example, will see a $37,000 premium increase to $140,000, while a neurosurgeon will pay $60,000 more, to $228,000, the company said. ISMIE imposed a moratorium on new business in January, but malpractice cases still grew 36% in the past nine months, the company said. The average malpractice claim payout climbed 59% over the past two years to $612,000, the company said. Meanwhile, the Illinois Hospital Association said hospitals' medical liability insurance costs had nearly doubled over the past two years, rising to an average of $2.8 million in 2003, from $1.5 million in 2001.
INDIANAPOLIS-Clarian Health Partners will not pay a penalty or restructure its debt under a settlement announced last month with the Internal Revenue Service over a 1996 tax-exempt bond issue. Clarian is one of seven systems to close its case with acquisition-financing deals under review. The IRS announced in 2001 that it would audit the $331.4 million issue, a portion of which financed the 1997 merger of Methodist Hospital of Indiana and Indiana University Medical Center to create Clarian.