Piccola Addresses Pa. Physicians as They Start Statewide Protests

April 29, 2003

Senate Majority Whip Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) emphasized Monday the need for enacting caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to members of the Politically Active Physicians Association (PAPA) at rallies in Southcentral and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Doctors are beginning a week of protests to demonstrate their belief that their medical malpractice premiums result from unreasonable, high awards in lawsuits.

Piccola spoke to several thousand physicians of the Montgomery County Medical Society during Philadelphia’s Kick-Off Rally held at the Valley Forge Convention Center and later to physicians of the Central Pennsylvania region at the Penn Harris Radisson. Thousands of doctors throughout the state plan to close their offices and hold rallies in order to draw public attention to the medical malpractice crisis that has prompted many of them to retire early, minimize their practices or leave the state.

Piccola began his remarks by stating, “I am here today not on behalf of the physicians and the executives of the health care systems but on behalf of their patients, my constituents.”

“In order to continue to practice medicine in the Commonwealth and provide quality care for patients, our doctors need affordable malpractice insurance premiums. Medical liability reform is necessary to ensure that continued access to quality care is preserved,” Piccola said.

“Citizens all over the state are becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of losing access to their doctors, trauma centers and hospitals. Our constituents are aware that frivolous lawsuits and unreasonable jury awards for pain and suffering are the underlying causes of this medical crisis,” Piccola remarked.

Piccola added, “Starting as far back as 1975, we have witnessed state after state addressing the medical malpractice insurance crisis by enacting caps on pain and suffering. Indeed, in the recent past, legislators in Ohio, Nevada, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Idaho have enacted caps in response to this problem.”

Piccola criticized Governor Rendell who has voiced opposition to caps and who prevented his own Medical Liability Task Force from voting on recommendations to solve the crisis.

“I suspect the Governor anticipated that a majority of his Task Force would have voted to recommend the implementation of caps – so there was no vote. Governor Rendell saw to that,” Piccola further added.

“More delay on this critical issue will certainly spell defeat for our dedicated health care providers across Pennsylvania,” Piccola said.

Piccola ended his remarks by noting that Governor Rendell cannot stop a vote by lawmakers. “This issue has been studied for the last 25 years. It is now our turn to act in order to ensure the preservation of Pennsylvania’s health care delivery system or we will be left with mediocre health care,” Piccola said.

“Governor Rendell, it’s time to vote for doctors and patients or the trial lawyers,” Piccola added.

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