Pa. Hospitals Respond to Defeat of Constitutional Amendment on Medical Liability

The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) issued the following statement from President and CEO Carolyn Scanlan in response to the defeat of legislation which would have provided for a constitutional amendment to allow the voters to decide whether the legislature should debate limits on non-economic damages in medical liability cases:

“The failure of the Senate Judiciary Committee to send House Bill
2722, introduced by Representative John Payne, R-Dauphin, to the full
Senate for a vote represents a huge setback for Pennsylvanians, and
the tabling of the bill in committee denies voters their say on
preserving patient access to care and restoring balance to the legal
system in Pennsylvania.

“Unfortunately, the losers will be all Pennsylvania citizens, who
will see their access to care further eroded as the broken medical
liability system forces more hospitals to reduce services and more
physicians to have second thoughts about staying or establishing
their practices in the Commonwealth.”

Following the tabling of House Bill 2722 in the Senate Judiciary
Committee, Scanlan said the hospital community was buoyed by an
effort led by Representative Curt Schroder, R-Chester, to move Senate
Bill 9 from the House Judiciary Committee through a discharge

“Unfortunately, this bold effort was defeated in the House 107 to
93, dashing hopes to meet the deadline for moving a constitutional
amendment forward.

“Passing a constitutional amendment in the 2003-2004 session was
necessary to give the General Assembly a critical legislative option as early as next year to put the issue before the voters. We are
committed to continuing to fight to protect access to health care for
all Pennsylvanians and to restore predictability and stability to a
broken medical liability system.”

Pennsylvania remains as one of only five states without the ability to
debate limits on non-economic damages.