Health Care Will Suffer As Result of Venue Rule Recission
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania risks repeating history with another medical liability crisis thanks to a recent change to the state’s venue rule, according to testimony delivered to a House Republican Policy Committee hearing. The hearing comes on the heels of the state Supreme Court’s decision to allow forum shopping once again in medical liability cases in the Commonwealth. Testimony was provided by Dr. Michael R. Ripchinski, Chief Physician Executive, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, for the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, Zachary Shamberg, president and CEO, Pennsylvania Healthcare Association, Dr. Wilson Jackson III, Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology, for the Pennsylvania Medical Society, and Jonathan Greer, president, Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania.
“Medical and legal experts from across Pennsylvania agree that a return to forum shopping will have dire consequences for the accessibility of health care in this state,” said Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform Executive Director Curt Schroder. “The testimony from today’s hearing echoes a recent independent study that found that a rule reversal would lead to a substantial increase in premiums throughout the Commonwealth – raising health care costs and threatening access to crucial services as a result.”
The original medical liability venue rule – which required medical malpractice cases to be tried in the county in which the alleged incident occurred – was implemented in 2003 as the state faced a growing health care crisis. Prior to this rule, plaintiffs’ attorneys regularly funneled medical liability lawsuits to high verdict jurisdictions, such as Philadelphia, in search of large payouts. This led to skyrocketing liability premiums for healthcare professionals causing physicians to drop high risk but necessary procedures, maternity wards to close, and limiting patient access to health care. Unfortunately, the rule’s success in right-sizing the state’s medical liability environment made it a target for plaintiffs’ attorneys who were no longer taking home big contingency fees. Over the past several years, plaintiffs’ attorneys have launched a full-scale campaign to have the rule reversed in order to go back to the days of venue shopping in search of larger jackpot verdicts and personal paydays.
“We thank Policy Committee Chairman Martin Causer and the committee for working to shine a light on this important issue and encourage the General Assembly to take action to stop venue shopping in the Commonwealth,” Schroder added.
# # #
The Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform is a 501(c )(6), not-for-profit, nonpartisan advocacy organization comprised of a diverse group of organizations and individuals committed to bringing fairness to Pennsylvania’s courts by raising awareness of civil justice issues and advocating for legal reform. Additional information is available at http://www.paforciviljusticereform.org, https://www.facebook.com/paciviljustice/ or https://twitter.com/paciviljustice.
Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform