PA Governor, Hospitals Support President’s Call for Med Mal Reform

January 17, 2003

Pennsylvania’s Governor Schweiker and The Hospital & Healthsystem Association lined up behind the state’s doctors in supporting President Bush’s call for comprehensive reforms the nation’s medical professional liability system. (see IJ Website Jan. 16)

Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rob Muscalus issued the following statement:
“President Bush’s proposal is a welcome sign for Pennsylvania and so many other states that are working hard to reform their medical- malpractice insurance systems. I applaud President Bush for his call to place caps on non-economic damages — something Gov. Schweiker asked the General Assembly to consider just last week.
“Fortunately for Pennsylvania, several of the reforms proposed by President Bush already have been called for and signed into law by Gov. Schweiker, including informed consent, the collateral source rule, periodic payment of future damages, expert witness reform, joint and several liability, the reduction of medical errors and elimination of venue shopping.”

The HAP’s president and CEO Carolyn F. Scanlan, who met with President Bush in Scranton, stated that “Placing reasonable limits on noneconomic damages will preserve injured patients’ rights to be fully compensated for their medical expenses and economic losses, but excessive noneconomic damage awards are crippling the nation’s health care delivery system and threatening Americans’ access to the world’s best health care.”

She noted that “according to insurance industry figures, medical liability premium increases between 1976 and 2000 were 167 percent in California [which has limited medical malpractice recoveries since 1976] and 505 percent nationwide.”

In Pennsylvania, however, “Insurance Department figures peg the increase at a staggering 1450 percent during the same period,” Scanlan stressed.

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