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Friday, February 15, 2019

Oberlander Thanks Supreme Court for Delaying Venue Rule Change

House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) today thanked Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for holding off on its consideration of a proposal to repeal the current rule that prevents venue shopping in medical malpractice cases. The adoption of the proposal would negatively impact access to health care statewide. Their decision came soon after Oberlander concluded a public hearing today.

In a letter to House leaders, Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), the Supreme Court noted it would wait for a report from the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee regarding the impact of the proposal.

“I am happy to see that the Supreme Court is doing its due diligence and taking into consideration all of the many viewpoints we have heard over the past few weeks to save our health care,” said Oberlander. “As we have seen by the attention this issue has attracted since December, residents’ health care could be put at great risk, and I’m glad that the Supreme Court is taking this matter so seriously. Because this rule change could have such an impact, we may revisit the venue issue in the future.”

Earlier today, Oberlander and the House Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing with physicians, attorneys and health care providers regarding a proposal to the Supreme Court that would repeal a court rule prohibiting venue shopping. This pending proposal would reverse progress that has been made to ensure health care access for all Pennsylvanians. This hearing raised further awareness of the issue in an attempt to let the court know how harmful this decision could be.

Specifically, the Policy Committee learned the reduction in filings demonstrates that the tort reform measures enacted more than 15 years ago by the Legislature and the Supreme Court are working. Those who testified also agreed that it continues to make logical sense that the county in which the alleged action took place should be the one where a case is filed, instead of a jurisdiction with no real connection to the alleged harm. All at the hearing agreed that doctors’ insurance premiums would skyrocket, and that would pose undue hardships on physicians, health care facilities and ultimately, patients – risking access to care.

In spite of the letter, residents are encouraged to continue sending their comments to the court by visiting www.PAGOPPolicy.com.

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