Joint Advocacy Correspondence: Republican Policy Committee, PA House of Representatives, Venue Rules
September 8, 2022
The Honorable Martin T. Causer, Chairman
Republican Policy Committee
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
147 Main Capitol Building
P.O. Box 202067
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2067
Dear Chairman Causer and Honorable Members of the Committee:
The purpose of this letter is to communicate the opposition of the undersigned organizations to changes to the venue rules in medical liability actions approved by the Supreme Court last month.
The decision of the Supreme Court reverts to a concerning pre-2003 legal framework that once again would allow personal injury lawyers to “venue shop” by moving medical liability claims from the counties in which the event occurred to counties that have histories of higher payouts. This action not only eliminates a major reform that has helped to stabilize the medical liability insurance market and preserve access to care in the commonwealth for nearly two decades, but it also undermines the consensus-driven approach embodied by the work of the Interbranch Commission on Venue, which recognized that all three branches of government have vital policy interests in this matter.
As noted in the attached letter sent to the Civil Procedural Rules Committee in early 2019, Pennsylvania health care providers and consumers will be adversely affected by a change to the venue rule. By allowing venue in counties with only a tangential relation to the underlying cause of action, claimants will shop for verdict-friendly venues in which to file their suits.
Returning to the rules in place during Pennsylvania’s medical liability crises will again lead to higher premiums for medical liability insurance, make Pennsylvania less attractive to physicians and other health professionals considering practicing in the state, increase medical costs, and adversely impact access to care for consumers.
Our members—who serve as the backbone of Pennsylvania’s healthcare delivery system—have firsthand knowledge of the impact the proposed venue rules could have on the medical liability climate. We also know that changes to the health care system between 2003 and 2022—such as provider consolidations, COVID-related workforce shortages, escalating cost pressure, and ongoing financial vulnerability of rural providers—will amplify the negative impact of the rule change.
We urge you to take all steps necessary to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision and forestall the negative impact of potential changes to the venue rules on the entire healthcare delivery system in Pennsylvania and, most importantly, the citizens who rely on this system for access to safe and cost-effective care.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our concerns.
Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology
Pennsylvania Affiliate of American College of Nurse-Midwives
Pennsylvania Ambulatory Surgery Association
Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Physicians
Pennsylvania Chiropractic Association
Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners
Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians
Pennsylvania Dental Association
Pennsylvania Homecare Association
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Pennsylvania Optometric Association
Pennsylvania Osteopathic Family Physicians Society
Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association
Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society
Pennsylvania Rural Health Association
Pennsylvania Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants
Pennsylvania State Nurses Association
Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association
Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania
The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania
The Urban Health Care Coalition
Topics: Medical Liability
Revision Date: 9/8/2022
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