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Pennsylvania

Recent Reforms Enacted (since 2003)  Extends the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Fund abatement program for Pennsylvania health-care providers through 2005. MCARE is the state insurance fund that provides from $500,000 to $1 million of insurance for providers. Physicians received between a 50% and 100% abatement depending on the specialty. Emergency physicians were originally provided a 50% abatement, but in 2006 the governor expanded it to 100% for board certified physicians providing emergency care. The state supreme court announced a rules change that allows judges to reduce jury awards they deem as excessive. (2004)  In 2011, new joint and several liability reforms were enacted, so that defendants found to be less than 60% at fault cannot be forced to pay more than their proportionate share of damages.
Emergency Care Provision  None
Reform Elements In Law  Collateral Source
Periodic Payments
Expert Witness
Affidavit of Merit Excess
Premium Fund
Joint and Several
Constitutional Status of Reforms  Joint and several liability reform was overturned by Commonweath Court, stating that the legislation was unconstitutional because it dealt with more than one subject area. (2005
Change in Insurance Rates  PMSLIC, the largest carrier in the state, announced that t  would not be a premium increase in 2006, after five years of double-digit increases. PMSLIC imposed an increase of 40% in 2002 and 54% in 2003. A Price Waterhouse Coopers study in 2005 reports liability rates dropping from 5 to 8 percent. AMA reports at least one insurer raised rates as much as 0 to 25% in 2004. The October 2005 newsletter of the Medical Liability Monitor said that Pennsylvania physicians pay some of the highest malpractice insurance premiums in the nation.  In April 2009, the Administrative Office of PA Courts reported that insurane premiums have decreased or stayed the same during the last three years.
Insurance Availability  PMSLIC, the largest carrier in the state, announced it would begin writing policies to new clients as of January 2006. In April 2009, Governor Rendell reported that the number of companies offering coverage increased from three in 2002 to 57 in 2009.
Change in Physician Availability  In 2003, only 17% of residents who trained in the state stayed there. (PMA). The state had a net loss of 507 physicians from 2002 to 2003. The Pennsylvania Neurological Society reported the number of neurosurgeons in Pennsylvania decreased by about 25% since the late 1990s, when more than 200 practiced in the state. A 2007 study puiblished in Health Affairs found that the total number of PA physicians increased by almost 6% between 1993 and 2002 and that the total number of physicians who practiced in high-risk specialties increased by 3.3% during the same period.
Change in Cases Filed/Awards  The State Supreme Court reported the number of med mal cases filed dropped from 2,903 in 2002 to 1,698 in 2005 and--according to the Administrative office of PA Courts, to 1602 in 2008. In the 223 medical malpractice jury verdicts reached in 2005 statewide, 80.3% were defense verdicts, only 5.8% were greater than $1 million. None exceeded $10 million. From 2000 to 2003, there was an annual average of 326 cases filed, with 73% resulting in defense verdicts, 10.4% greater than $1 million and 1.2% higher than $10 million. News reports indicated that payments by MCARE, the state's patient compensation fund that pays awards between $500,000 and $1 million, decreased from $320.3 million in 2004 to $232.6 million in 2005 to $191 million in 2007. Kaiser reports that there were 1249 paid claims in 2003 or 30.2 per 1000 active nonfederal physicians. US avg. was 18.8 per 1000. 1062 paid claims in 2005 or 25.8 per 1000 active nonfederal physicians. US avg. was 17.1 per 1000. (Kaiser) 924 total number of paid claims for 2006 or 19.3 per 1,000 active, non-federal physicians. 767 paid claims in 2007.
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