* 12:33 pm - Expect plenty more appeals before this is over…
CHICAGO, Ill. (AP) - A judge here has thrown out Illinois’ law placing caps on some medical malpractice lawsuit awards, reigniting debate over 1 of the Legislature’s most contentious issues.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Joan Larsen today sided with plaintiffs’ argument that the caps on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases violate victims’ rights.
The 2005 caps law limits damages victims can collect for pain and suffering to $500,000 against doctors and $1 million against hospitals. It followed complaints from doctors about soaring malpractice insurance rates.
The state Supreme Court had deemed previous caps unconstitutional. The latest caps only cover malpractice cases.
*** The judge’s opinion can be downloaded here ***
* 12:39 pm - The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted to suspend (block) the governor’s proposed emergency healthcare rules this morning. The governor’s rules would vastly expand eligibility for the state’s Family Care program. Background on the rules is here.
All JCAR members voted to suspend the guv’s proposed emergency rules except House Republican members Brent Hassert and Rosemary Mulligan, who both voted “No.” Sen. James Clayborne was not present.
* 1:39 pm - Statements from interest groups regarding the above med-mal decision…
* Medical Society
* Hospital Association
* Trial Lawyers
* Illinois Civil Justice League
* Citizen Action
* The Center for Justice & Democracy-Illinois
* 1:49 pm - More on the JCAR vote…
JCAR members encouraged Hoffman’s department to file an emergency rules that would cover an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 individuals who are at risk of being cut from a federal-state program known as “SCHIP.”
Hoffman said her agency had no plans to do that. The department, however, has filed identical rules for the healthcare expansion that will go through JCAR on a slower, non-emergency basis, officials said.
The governor’s only support on JCAR — a 12-member legislative panel evenly split by Democrats and Republicans — came from two Republicans: state Reps. Rosemary Mulligan of Des Plaines and Brent Hassert of Romeoville. One panel member was absent from today’s meeting.
Hassert said the discussion was clouded by animosity between lawmakers and the governor, who had a particularly contentious legislative sessions this year.
“I just felt it was appropriate,” Hassert said of the governor’s plans.
* 2:01 pm - Is Louisville’s police chief on the short list for Chicago police superintendent? Local Kentucky media sure thinks so.
Mayor Jerry Abramson said this morning that a team looking for a new police superintendent in Chicago has contacted Louisville Police Chief Robert White about the job.
* 2:19 pm - More on med-mal from Crain’s…
In her 10-page opinion, Judge Larsen ruled that the law violates the Illinois Constitution’s “separation of powers” clause — essentially finding that lawmakers interfered with the right of juries to determine fair damages.
The ruling means the case likely will go directly to the Illinois Supreme Court as early as next summer. The court has twice before struck down laws that limit payments to malpractice victims: once in the 1970s and again in 1997.
* 2:22 pm - This press release reminds me that I have to make up some t-shirts for our charity store…
On Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 11:00 a.m. at the James R. Thompson Center, Lt. Governor Pat Quinn will launch a weeklong cell phone recycling campaign where all used phones and equipment will be donated to victims of domestic violence.
“This recycling drive serves the twofold purpose of making it easy to properly recycle your old cell phone while providing a safe line of communication for victims of domestic violence,” said Quinn, chairman of the Illinois Green Government Coordinating Council. “We want to encourage state employees and everyone to look through their closets and drawers and bring in those old cell phones. There are people out there who need them.”
In honor of America Recycles Day on Nov. 15, the Lt. Governor’s office is joining with Verizon Wireless HopeLine to collect used cell phones, batteries and accessories at state office buildings. The recycling drive will take place from Nov. 13-Nov. 16 and boxes will be placed throughout the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago and in the Stratton and Howlett buildings in Springfield.
Verizon Wireless began its HopeLine program 11 years ago by donating voicemail boxes so that women in shelters could receive confidential messages from their families and prospective employers. Today, the HopeLine program has collected more than four million phones, donated more than $4 million in financial grants and provided more than 45,000 wireless phones to local domestic organizations nationwide.
* 2:51 pm - From the Illinois Green Party…
Today two concerned voters in the 3rd Congressional District filed objections to the candidacy of Mr. Richard Mayers of Berwyn. The Illinois Green Party fully supports these objections, and will do what it can to ensure that Mr. Mayers is removed from the primary ballot.
The Illinois Green Party wishes to make it clear that Mr. Mayers is not a member of the Illinois Green Party, and the party disavows Mr. Mayers’ candidacy. Furthermore, the Illinois Green Party calls on the Illinois Board of Elections to overrule each of the frivolous objections filed by Mr. Mayers against candidates in all three parties.
Mayers has been described as a “white supremacist connected with Matt Hale’s Creativity Movement.”
* 3:33 pm - No surprise…
The City Council today approved Mayor Daley’s $5.9 billion 2008 budget precariously balanced with $276.5 million worth of increased taxes, fines and fees. It includes a revised $83.4 million property tax increase that’s the largest in Chicago history.
Daley loves to “pitch a shut-out” on the budget, the most important City Council vote of the year. Six of his previous budgets have been approved unanimously. It didn’t happen Tuesday. The budget passed 36 to 14, but the property tax package vote was much closer: 29 to 21. It was the narrowest victory for any of Daley’s budgets.