HAP Resource Center

Joint Advocacy Letter: Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, Opposition to Proposed change to Venue Rules

November 15, 2019

Patricia Berger Executive Director
Legislative Budget and Finance Committee
A Joint Committee of the Pennsylvania General Assembly
P.O. Box 8737
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8737

Dear Ms. Berger:

The purpose of this letter is to communicate the opposition of the undersigned organizations to proposed changes to the venue rules in medical liability actions being proposed by the Civil Procedural Rules Committee of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

While many of us have communicated our formal position to you in writing, or have testified during the legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) hearings this summer, this letter serves to communicate the united opposition of the undersigned provider groups to this dangerous rule change as you work to complete your comprehensive study of this topic.

As noted in the attached letter sent to the Civil Procedural Rules Committee earlier this year, Pennsylvania health care providers and consumers would be adversely affected by a change to the venue rule. By allowing venue in counties with only a tangential relation to the underlying cause of action, claimants could shop for verdict-friendly venues in which to file their suits.

Returning to the rules in place during Pennsylvania’s medical liability crises could again lead to higher premiums for medical liability insurance, make Pennsylvania less attractive to physicians and other health professionals considering practicing in the state, increase medical costs, and adversely impact access to care for consumers.

Our members—who serve as the backbone of Pennsylvania’s healthcare delivery system—have firsthand knowledge of the impact the proposed venue rules could have on the medical liability climate. We also know that changes to the health care system between 2003 and 2019—such as provider consolidations, workforce shortages, escalating cost pressure, and ongoing financial vulnerability of rural providers—could amplify the negative impact of the rule change.

We ask that you acknowledge, in your final report, the information communicated within the attached letter and the negative impact of potential changes to the venue rules on the entire healthcare delivery system in Pennsylvania and, most importantly, the citizens who rely on this system for access to safe and cost-effective care.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our concerns.

Sincerely,

Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania
LeadingAge PA
Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers
Pennsylvania Association of Certified Nurse Midwives
Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society
Pennsylvania Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
Pennsylvania Chiropractic Association
Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health
Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners
Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians
Pennsylvania Dental Association
Pennsylvania Health Care Association
Pennsylvania Homecare Association
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society
Pennsylvania Psychological Association
Pennsylvania Rural Health Association
Pennsylvania Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Pennsylvania Society of Anesthesiologists
Pennsylvania State Nurses Association
Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants
Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association
The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania
The Urban Healthcare Coalition

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Topics: Medical Liability, State Advocacy

Revision Date: 11/15/2019

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