Penn. Senate Leader Applauds Passage of Med Mal Reform Bill; Attacks Governor’s Plan

June 12, 2003

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Whip Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) issued a statement applauding the State’s House of Representatives “for their recent and much-needed passage of legislation to amend Pennsylvania’s constitution to allow for limitations on non-economic damages including medical malpractice cases (pain and suffering).” (See also today’s headline article).

However, he attacked Governor Edward G Rendell’s recently released med mal reform plan. (see IJ Website June 10)

“We need to ask the people if they want to change the state constitution to allow caps on unreasonable jury awards. I believe that doing this will protect all Pennsylvanians from the damaging effects of lawsuit abuse,” Piccola stated

He pointed to studies, which have concluded “that Pennsylvania has one of the worst insurance availabilities in the nation” with medical malpractice premium costs in 2000 ranked as the 9th highest in the U.S., running about 50 percent above the national average. “It indicates that Pennsylvania physicians are sued more and the payouts against them are higher,” Piccola stressed.

The Senator attacked the med mal plan as “limited and vague,” indicating that it would require “more money, more state bureaucracy and regulations and more time.” He added, “To be frank, the Rendell report sounds like the trial lawyers’ platform — blame the doctors and hospitals and protect the lawyers!”

Piccola called for “long-term systematic changes to a litigation system that is out of control.” In his remarks on the Senate floor, he quoted veteran Philadelphia Daily News reporter, John Baer, noting: “The Rendell administration’s comprehensive solution to the medical malpractice crisis is neither comprehensive nor a solution.” He added that he strongly agreed with that conclusion.

“Governor Rendell is postponing the day of reckoning by suggesting that $600 million dollars be spent over the next three years without any prospect of solving the underlying problem. The Governor has failed in his commitment to address this problem for doctors, hospitals and the people of Pennsylvania,” Piccola concluded.

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