PA House and Senate Republicans Join Physicians and Hospitals on Concern with Venue Change
Written by Executive Vice President, Public Policy and Association Affairs, Andy Sandusky

February 6, 2019

The Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus held a press conference on the steps of the capitol rotunda joining the chorus of physicians and hospitals asking the Supreme Court Civil Procedural Rules Committee to hold off changing the venue rule. The current venue rule requires that medical professional liability actions be brought in the county where the alleged action took place. Republican lawmakers argued that removing this exception from the procedural rules will likely lead to higher jury awards and higher premiums.

Lawmakers who were in office in the early 2000s recalled how difficult a crisis it was for communities around the state as physicians left the state or restricted their practice to lower risk treatment of patients in order to avoid paying skyrocketing premiums. Legislators urged the court to stay the course and refrain from changing the rule on venue.

In the Senate, Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Judiciary Committee Chair, authored Senate Resolution 20 that would require a study on the venue issue by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, while urging Supreme Court to delay any change until the study is complete. The report is due by January 2020. After a spirited floor debate, SR 20 passed the Senate (32-17) with 3 Democratic Senators joining all Republican Senators in favor of the measure. It is unclear what impact (if any) this will have on the Supreme Court’s final decision.