PA Hospitals Hail Legislature’s Passage of Med Mal Reform Bill

June 6, 2002

Several Pennsylvania hospital associations have hailed House passage of the “Fair Share Act,” a bill which abolishes joint and several liability for any defendant found to be less than 60 percent liable for causing an injury.

The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania both issued bulletins praising the legislature’s action. Ian G. Rawson, Ph.D., president of Hospital Council, stated that, “This Act, coupled with the previous passage of Act 13, will help maintain access to care by lowering the costs of medical liability insurance for hospitals and physicians.”

Carolyn F. Scanlan, president and CEO of HAP called the bill “a common-sense measure” which would maintain a plaintiff’s right to collect damages “while bringing fairness, balance, and stability to Pennsylvania’s liability insurance system.”

“This critical reform,” Scanlan continued, “will help to keep doctors practicing, hospital services open, and patients healthy. It is now time for the Senate to vote ‘yes’ on this bill and preserve patient access to the world’s best health care,” she added.” Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker has promised to sign the bill, S.B. 1089, if it’s passed by the Senate.

The efforts to reform PA’s medical malpractice insurance crisis reached a critical stage late last year, as insurers continued to exit the market, or were forced into rehabilitation. Scanlan indicated that this left health care providers with two options: “diverting patient care resources to paying exorbitant insurance premiums, or cutting services.” A survey conducted by the HAP resulted in estimates that the state’s hospitals paying more than $180 million in additional premiums for medical liability insurance compared to one year ago.

“Most of these premium increases preceded the collapse of the Pennsylvania liability insurance market,” Scanlan noted. “Hospitals now going into the market for renewal or replacement coverage as of July through September 2002 — when more than half of all hospital policies expire — are expecting even larger additional premium hikes that will further erode patient access to care.”

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