PA GOP Policy Committee - Venue Shopping

Pennsylvanians’ access to quality health care is in jeopardy. The court is looking to reverse all the progress that has been made to ensure critical access to health care.

In 2003, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted a rule that was advocated for by House Republican Caucus to prevent plaintiffs’ lawyers in medical malpractice cases from shopping around for a court venue. This rule change was coupled with a series of legislative reforms relating to medical malpractice liability insurance that were enacted in 2002.

Cases from all over Pennsylvania were being steered to Philadelphia for trial, even if none of the alleged malpractice actually took place there. Philadelphia juries routinely awarded substantially higher payouts compared to other counties from the 1970s through the early 2000s.

As a result, premiums for medical malpractice insurance skyrocketed all around the state -- regardless of whether the doctors practiced in Philadelphia or elsewhere.

This led to a crisis in health care across the state. Doctors, including family practice, OB-GYNs, orthopedists, neurosurgeons and other specialists, retired early, closed entirely or moved to other states.

That led to higher health care costs overall and broken relationships between patient and physician. Access to health care suffered throughout the state, especially in rural and more remote areas.

This rule states that medical malpractice cases must be brought in the county where the alleged malpractice occurred. Since its enactment, the number of medical malpractice cases dropped 66 percent in Philadelphia, demonstrating how many cases about malpractice in other counties had been inappropriately misdirected to Philadelphia.

That rule – which has protected health care and allowed patients to rely on their physician – is now threatened. On Dec. 22, the Civil Procedural Rules Committee announced a proposal to repeal this rule, thereby allowing medical malpractice actions to be brought in “any venue authorized by law.”

If the Supreme Court agrees with the proposal and repeals this rule, many health care providers and insurers anticipate conditions will revert to those before 2002, risking health care as we know it.

Complete Press Conference
Rep. Oberlander Comments
Rep. Cutler Comments
Rep. Turzai Comments
Rep. Ryan Comments

The following could happen:
    • Patients may have to say goodbye to their physicians.
    • Patients may have to drive farther to see specialists.
    • Recruiting physicians and specialists to Pennsylvania will be difficult.
    • Medical innovations (new procedures, new treatments and new medicines) may be halted.
    • Patient care may suffer.
    • EVERYONE will face higher health care costs.

You can read more of the background through this opinion editorial: https://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2019/01/proposed-court-rules-would-bring-us-back-to-the-bad-old-days-of-venue-shopping-opinion.html 

Our voice is limited – as we all know the court’s level of respect for the legislative process – but we can make a difference.

You can help us.

If this would negatively impact you as a physician, nurse, other health care provider, patient or a family member, you can submit your comments directly to the court by clicking here. https://www.pamedsoc.org/venue-rule-change/comment  


Please share this information with others who would be impacted.

We cannot allow the court to destroy health care in Pennsylvania. Save our health care because the prescription we wrote is working.

THANK YOU!

To bring further awareness to this issue, the House Majority Policy Committee will hold a public hearing:

Tuesday, Feb. 12
1 p.m.
St. Luke’s Hospital (Bethlehem Campus)
801 Ostrum St., Fountain Hill, PA 18015