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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20170&cosponId=23188
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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 6, 2017 04:21 PM
From: Representative Warren Kampf
To: All House members
Subject: Applying the MCARE Punitive Damages Caps for Physicians to Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
 
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to amend the MCARE Act (Act 13 of 2002) in order to provide further lawsuit-abuse reform for our long-term care facilities throughout the Commonwealth.

Currently, Section 505(d) of the MCARE Act contains a provision that limits the amount of punitive damages which can be awarded in a trial against physicians, except where there is intentional misconduct, to double (200%) the amount of compensatory damages. This is an important measure which has helped to maintain access to doctors across all specialties in Pennsylvania.

My legislation would extend this provision to long-term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living residences and personal care homes. Pennsylvania’s skilled nursing facilities currently settle virtually 100% of cases brought against them and in many cases this is out of fear of punitive damage awards. Exorbitant litigation costs and fear of these awards inflate recoveries beyond what is fair compensation. These cases have been driven primarily by out-of-state law firms that advertise heavily in newspapers throughout Pennsylvania, trolling for plaintiffs. The ads have brought public mistrust and anger against an industry that cares for our frail elderly citizens.

According to a recently-published actuarial analysis on litigation costs, the litigation cost per Medicaid day in Pennsylvania is $5.39. Given that Medicaid paid for about 19.35 million days of care in 2015, Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program spent more than $104 million on litigation-related costs in 2015, much of this in contingency fees to out-of-state lawyers. Most of that $104 million could have been used to improve the quality of care and the quality of life for nursing home residents.

Enacting limits for long term care providers will help reduce frivolous litigation and shift resources back to patient care where they should be spent.

Please consider cosponsoring this legislation.



Introduced as HB1037