Skilled nursing facilities, personal care homes and assisted living facilities are under attack from predatory, out-of-state lawyers. Tort reform must be enacted in the 2017-18 legislative session to combat these attorneys and keep Medicaid dollars where they belong: at the residents bedside in Pennsylvania.
- The Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) strongly supports House Bill 1037, which limits punitive damages to 250% of the amount of compensatory damages for long-term care providers. Skilled nursing facilities, personal care homes and assisted living residences would be protected from out-of-state predatory lawyers in the way that physicians have been for almost 15 years.
- Skilled nursing facilities on the other hand, currently settle virtually 100% of their cases for fear of punitive damage awards, and one national skilled nursing facility chain has sold its more than 20 facilities and fled Pennsylvania. Today, Pennsylvania is ranked second among all 50 states in total medical malpractice payouts and third in payouts per capita. In 2014, 95 percent of the payouts were settlements, not judgments…driven by fear of punitive damages.
- These cases have been driven primarily by predatory out-of-state law firms who advertise heavily in newspapers throughout Pennsylvania, trolling for plaintiffs. Since 2011, their advertisements have appeared more than 150 times in Pennsylvania newspapers with 37 full page advertisements attacking 62 nursing facilities since January 1, 2016. The ads have brought public mistrust and anger against an industry that cares for the frail elderly of our commonwealth, and made hard-working staff embarrassed to go to their local grocery store.
- Liability costs continue to rise for Pennsylvania skilled nursing facilities. According to a new actuarial analysis on liability costs, the liability 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 liability related costs in 2015, much of this in contingency fees to out-of-state predatory lawyers. This is an increase of more than $9 million over previous expenditures. Most of the $104 million could have been used to improve the quality of care and the quality of life for skilled nursing facility residents. (See Nursing Facility Research below)