Medical Liability Reform
Hospital Family's Help Needed for Important Legal Reform
Pennsylvania consistently ranks as having one of the worst legal climates in the nation. The high legal costs paid by Pennsylvania health care providers increase health care costs, limit access to medical care, and inhibit job growth. In the midst of major health care delivery changes, this is hurting Pennsylvanians. Hospitals have difficulty attracting physicians and other health care professionals, which hinders their ability to meet their community's health care needs.
House Bill 1 is scheduled to be considered in early April, and your help is needed. Please go to the Take Action section of this website and email your state representative and ask that he or she support House Bill 1.
Time to Pass Fair Share Act
Reforming Pennsylvania's legal climate can help keep medical liability costs down and make the state a more attractive place to practice medicine. One key reform, the Fair Share Act, has been introduced in the state House of Representatives as House Bill 1, and in the state Senate as Senate Bill 2.
The Fair Share Act changes a legal rule in Pennsylvania called joint and several liability. This rule allows a defendant to be held 100 percent responsible for all monetary damages, even if that defendant is minimally responsible. Plaintiff attorneys look for "deep pockets," entities with greater financial resources, including hospitals, when filing lawsuits. Those "deep pockets" may end up paying the entire award, even if they were only marginally responsible. This is not right.
The Fair Share Act ensures that defendants are responsible for only their fair share of damages in a case. Both House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2 make liability more proportional to degree of fault for the injury or loss, and it includes exceptions to protect plaintiffs in cases involving intentional fraud or tort; environmental hazards; and drunk driving. In 2002 and 2006, Pennsylvania passed the same Fair Share Act with bipartisan support, but a technical issue and a Governor's veto kept the reform from becoming law. We can't wait any longer.
Governor Corbett Supports Fair Share Act
In his recent budget speech, Governor Tom Corbett called on the legislature to pass the Fair Share Act to improve access to health care in communities and make Pennsylvania more business friendly too. "The way the law stands now a person or business can be held two percent responsible for someone's injury and another party 98 percent responsible. But if the real culprit can evade payment, the minor player is stuck paying the full bill. That's irrational. It's unjust. And it's got to end. We need to change that aspect of tort law. The general assembly has passed this reform before. I'm asking you to pass it again. You now have a governor who will sign it," said Corbett in his March 8, 2011, budget address.
The Fair Share Act also has the support of more than 40 organizations representing hospitals, medical professionals, businesses, and local governments. Today, 40 other states have passed joint and several liability reform, and we need to be able to compete with them.
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The general assembly has passed this reform before. I’m asking you to pass it again. You now have a governor who will sign it.
— Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in his March 8 budget address.
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