Pennsylvania News

House of Representatives Passes First Step On Medical Malpractice Amendment

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives last week made the first step toward giving voters the right to approve an amendment to the state Constitution that would allow caps to be placed on the award for damages related to pain and suffering in Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases. The measure will not be presented to voters until at least 2005, although the Senate will most likely consider the legislation in the fall of this year. The caps are viewed by many as a long-term solution for lowering Pennsylvania medical malpractice payouts and attracting insurance companies back to the state. Alternate plans include Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s proposed $650 million subsidy covering three years of physician malpractice insurance, and a bill sponsored by Senator Stewart Greenleaf that would create a sliding scale of insurance coverage that would depend upon each doctor’s patient safety record, with liability requirements ranging between $250,000 and $1 million. Legislators do not anticipate an immediate solution. “The only thing I can see everybody agreeing on is that doctors are paying exorbitant fees for medical malpractice insurance and everybody wants to change that,” said Senator Gerald LaValle.

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