Pa. Governor Hails Improvements in Med-Mal Insurance Market

October 24, 2005

  • October 25, 2005 at 8:43 am
    Roger Baumgarten says:
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    Harrisburg – October 24

    The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) today released the following statement by President and CEO Carolyn F. Scanlan in response to Governor Ed Rendell’s call for an extension, through 2007, of the Health Care Provider Retention Program (Mcare abatement):

    â€Åâ€ŔWe appreciate the Governor’s continued support of relief to Pennsylvania’s hospitals and physicians, as contained in House Bill 2041, introduced by Representative Steve Nickol, and Senate Bill 972, introduced by Senator John Rafferty.

    â€Åâ€ŔExtension of the Mcare abatement will translate into preserved patient access to health care.

    â€Åâ€ŔThough some short-term improvements in the medical liability environment are evident, access to care in this state remains vulnerable due to continued high liability insurance costs and the continued absence of an overall competitive private insurance market.

    â€Åâ€ŔLike other major sectors in Pennsylvania, health care has difficulty in recruiting young, new, and established physicians to Pennsylvania.

    â€Åâ€ŔAs Pennsylvania’s hospitals have said previously, fully restoring the state’s medical liability insurance market requires a number of short- and long-term measures.

    â€Åâ€ŔLegislative and judicial reforms—including Act 13 of 2002 and venue reforms—require three to five years for full impact.

    â€Åâ€ŔIn the meantime, extension of the Mcare abatement will give providers additional breathing room while enacted reforms take hold and additional needed reforms are proposed, debated, and passed.

    â€Åâ€ŔThese additional reforms include re-passage of joint-and-several liability reform, called the Fair Share Act; reasonable limits on non-economic damages; and adoption of an alternative dispute resolution process.

    â€Åâ€ŔThe ultimate beneficiaries of these liability reform measures will be the Pennsylvanians who depend on round-the-clock access to physician and hospital care.”

  • October 25, 2005 at 10:48 am
    Ken Kilpatrick says:
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    Statement from Politically Active Physicians Association (PAPA)

    Despite recent claims by Governor Ed Rendell, Pennsylvania remains in a severe health care delivery crisis. Due to escalating medical liability costs fueled by numerous and often frivolous lawsuits, over 2000 surgeons, ob/gyns and family doctors have left the state, curtailed services, or taken early retirement. As a result, patients have died and many women have had to travel distances of up to 100 miles for ob/gyn and pre-natal care.

    The governor recently announced that actions taken by his administration â€Åâ€Ŕhave started to have an impact” on Pennsylvania’s health care delivery crisis. To support his assertion, the governor indicated that the cost of the primary layer of insurance will be â€Åâ€Ŕflat” during 2006 and the MCARE surcharge will be lower for some physicians. He also mentioned several insurance providers who might not raise rates in 2006.

    However, those same insurance providers who will not be raising rates during 2006 had imposed double-digit rate increases every year since 2000 — increases that have sometimes exceeded 50%. Coincidently, insurance providers have paid out over $2.01 billion in malpractice awards from 2000-2004. Medical liability insurance rates remain at an all-time high making Pennsylvania a difficult place for practicing physicians to remain and for new physicians to start their new careers.

    The governor also cited statistics from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that indicate medical malpractice cases have declined. However, the court did not use all the available data when it compared 2004 lawsuits filed against an average of 2000, 2001, and 2002 lawsuits filed. In point of fact, the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in 2004 (1,875) was 103 lawsuits more than the 1,712 lawsuits filed in 2003.

    The governor also said that changes in venue law had â€Åâ€Ŕa tremendous effect of moving cases out of Philadelphia and into their proper counties.” However, the governor did not point out that venue change has simply created a suburban sprawl of litigation. Montgomery County has seen a 300% increase in medical malpractice lawsuits. Lancaster has had a 191% percent increase.

    Since May 2002, over 7000 lawsuits have been filed against Pennsylvania doctors. That represents 25% of Pennsylvania’s 25,000 active practicing physicians. As required by statute, these lawsuits have been reported to the medical board for investigation. So far, the medical board has investigated approximately 4100 of those cases, and of those, only 12 have been found to warrant further action. Clearly, there is a pattern of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuit filings that continue to plague Pennsylvania’s health care delivery system.

    The only significant progress that has been made in Pennsylvania’s health care delivery crisis since Governor Rendell has taken office has happened on the federal level. This summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, which creates strong disincentives for those who file frivolous lawsuits. H.R. 5 has been sent to the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary, and only Senator Arlen Specter, the Chairman of the Judiciary, stands between the will of the American people and the President’s signature. For the sake and lives of Pennsylvania’s children, elderly and all patients, we ask Governor Rendell to truly demonstrate his concern for his constituents by joining us in calling upon Senator Specter to schedule hearings on H.R. 5.

    P.A.P.A. was formed by concerned medical practitioners to ensure quality medical care can continue to be delivered to patients. The Association is committed to educating the public and the legislative bodies as to the escalating problems that threaten the effectiveness of medical care to those needing such care. For more information log on to or call 215-271-9590.

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