Statewide Organizations Take Stand Against Proposed ‘Venue Shopping’ Rule Change Pennsylvanians’ Healthcare at Risk if Rule Change is Enacted by the PA Supreme Court

Harrisburg, PA– (February 28, 2019) Organizations from across Pennsylvania joined forces to voice their strong opposition to a proposed ‘venue shopping’ rule change making its way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Proposed Venue Change Amendment to Pa.R.C.P. Nos. 1006, 2130, 2156, and 2179 of the Civil Procedure Rules, set forth by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, would gut the most significant reform that provided relief from the medical malpractice crisis of the early 2000s. February 22nd was the final day for comment on this proposed venue rule change.

PCCJR, our members, and partner organizations submitted more than 3,000 comments against the proposed rule change.

Below is a sampling of voices from across Pennsylvania that stand in opposition to this rule change:

Curt Schroder, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform

“The proposed rule change would result in a flood of suits against doctors, hospitals, and long-term care providers, being filed in the notorious Philadelphia court system, known for its jackpot verdicts, as well as in counties with similar records of unrestrained jury awards. Such a move would roll back a significant reform that helped stem the last medical liability crisis in 2002.”

Zach Shamberg, Director of Government Affairs, Pennsylvania Health Care Association

“In the two months since the Civil Procedural Rules Committee proposed this rule change, representatives from nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living residences have flooded the Committee with hundreds of comments, expressing their strong concerns and cautioning against a revival of ‘venue shopping’ in Pennsylvania. From CEOs to direct care workers, we were overwhelmed by the number of long-term care providers who got involved and submitted comments. It goes to show just how devastating this rule change would be to providers, staff and residents.”

Andy Carter, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

“HAP and the hospital community appreciate that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee will review the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee’s study before it makes its decision; however, we remain deeply concerned that this proposed rule would have a lasting and harmful impact on access to care. The current venue rules have allowed the medical liability climate to steadily improve while preserving access to justice. We continue to believe that the proposed rule is not in the public interest and we implore the Court to reject it.”\

Danae Powers, MD, President, Pennsylvania Medical Society

“Our state’s physician community made a strong statement in opposition to this proposal, as demonstrated by the more than 2,500 individual comments sent through our website to the Civil Procedural Rules Committee. The Pa. Medical Society looks forward to participating in an open discussion on why this proposal would harm patient access to care and the ability to recruit and retain quality physicians.”

Moving Forward

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to suspend a decision on rescinding the rule on ‘venue shopping’ until a report is completed by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. This report is a directive of Senate Resolution 20 sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker. The resolution passed the Senate on February 5, 2019 by a vote of 31 to 8. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee is a bipartisan legislative policy group made up of 12 members of the General Assembly and its professional staff. The Committee will now be tasked with studying the impact of the current proposal before the Civil Procedural Rules Committee and issuing its report by January 1, 2020.

While the Supreme Court announced a delay in consideration of the proposed venue rule change until the LBFC issues its report, PCCJR is encouraging Pennsylvanians to continue to communicate their strong opposition to policy makers on the proposed venue rule change.

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Contact: Curt Schroder 717-461-3577 ( phone) or curt@pccjr.org

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