Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives voted by a 148-51 margin to approve additional provisions to the Senate’s version of the medical malpractice reform bill, delaying passage of any measure until a compromise is reached.
Representatives of the State’s doctors, hospitals and health care providers apparently persuaded Republican lawmakers that the Senate proposals did not provide the changes they insist are necessary to protect their patients and address their own legitimate concerns. All the parties involved had been in negotiations to produce a bill that would have been mutually acceptable, until Monday night, when the doctor’s group withdrew.
They are seeking limits on damage awards, which they blame for skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance premiums, and changes in Pennsylvania’s Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe(CAT) Fund, which provides malpractice coverage in cases where it’s not available from private insurers. (See IJ Website Jan. 30).
The Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, which has disputed the need for such changes (See IJ Website Feb.11) criticized the House action as causing unnecessary delays in implementing needed reforms. The representatives of the medical community, however, defended their actions in seeking the changes, as part of a legitimate effort to produce a better piece of legislation.