HAP Supports House Republican Leaders’ Efforts to Protect Access to Care, Fight Return of Venue Shopping
January 30, 2019
Today, HAP and members of the Pennsylvania hospital community joined physicians and business and health care executives to address a proposal that threatens patient access to care.
During a House Republican news conference, the group called on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules Committee to withdraw its plan to eliminate a venue reform that has brought fairness and balance to the state’s medical liability system. Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, and House Policy Chairman Donna Oberlander spoke on the issue.
The committee’s proposed rule change would allow for the return of “venue shopping,” which enabled personal injury attorneys to move claims to counties that have a history of awarding higher payouts to plaintiffs. Venue shopping was one of the leading contributors to the 2002 medical liability crisis.
During 2002, liability insurers left the market, and health care providers had significant problems getting or affording the insurance coverage that they needed to practice. Patient access to care was negatively impacted, because:
- Many physicians and medical residents left the state to practice elsewhere
- Many hospitals were forced to cut services to make up for increased expenses
In response, the legislative, executive, and judicial branches all agreed to end venue shopping and required that medical liability claims can only be filed in the county where the alleged medical liability occurred. Since venue reform was adopted, there have been far fewer medical liability claims filed.
Andy Carter, HAP’s President and CEO, issued a statement saying, “History has shown that venue shopping forced medical professionals out of the state and deterred others from coming here to practice, robbing Pennsylvanians of quality care. The rules committee of the Supreme Court has not shown its work to indicate why such a change is necessary after 17 years, during which Pennsylvania’s medical liability environment has steadily improved.”
Carter’s full statement can be found at HAP’s website.
The association will issue a comment letter to the committee asking members to withdraw the proposal and highlight the problems it would create:
- Increased medical liability insurance rates, which will make Pennsylvania a less attractive place to practice for physicians, nurse practitioners, and midwives
- Access issues for patients, due to difficulties in recruiting and retaining physicians and other health care practitioners
- Increased health care costs for businesses, consumers, and government payors
For additional information, contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.