To the Editor:
As a hospital leader who is proud of our courageous health care professionals for their heroic efforts in the fight against COVID-19, we urge the governor to veto House Bill 3360 because of the devastating impacts it will have on patients, hospitals and the health care system.
This legislation passed in the waning hours of the General Assembly’s lame-duck session in January with no deliberation, discussion or debate – and no consideration for hospitals that would be negatively impacted. This bill mandates 9% annual prejudgment interest in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including medical liability cases, and this interest rate accrues even before a lawsuit is filed. While HB 3360 is technical and legal in nature, its consequences are very easy to understand – it will increase health care costs, drive physicians out of Illinois and cause physicians in training not to choose Illinois as a career workplace, jeopardizing patients’ access to care, especially in our most vulnerable communities.
The Illinois Health and Hospital Association estimates this legislation will cost up to $1 billion annually, coming directly from hospitals (most of which are self-insured), not from insurance policies. At Silver Cross Hospital, we estimate the impact could be more than $10 million annually. That means resources will be diverted from patients to pay for unnecessary, unfair and exorbitant legal costs and settlements.
During the pandemic, which continues to be the biggest challenge in health care in more than a century, my hospital and hospitals across the state have been financially devastated. HB 3360 will place an even greater burden on health care providers and hospitals as they struggle to survive, while continuing to serve their communities.
We urge Gov. JB Pritzker to veto HB 3360 and support hospitals and health care professionals who are working to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior vice president, external affairs, Silver Cross Hospital