Gov. Corbett signs 'apology' bill into law

October 23, 2013 3:19:14 PM PDT
Governor Corbett signed a bill today allowing medical professionals to apologize to patients without it coming back to haunt them in court.

The so-called 'apology bill' allows health care professionals to apologize or express grief to a patient or family when things don't go as planned, but protects them from seeing that apology from being used against them in a civil lawsuit.

The measure won't eliminate liability on the part of doctors or hospitals, nor will it head off all malpractice lawsuits. However, it will most likely lower the number of them.

And it will improve communication.

"We should not discourage human beings from sharing empathy with one another after a tragedy," said the governor.

"We do this because it is right for the families of Pennsylvania and for the healthcare system," he continued.

State Senator Pat Vance (R-Cumberland Co.) has worked for years to get the measure passed.

At today's signing ceremony, she said it was worth the effort.

"Many lawsuits were filed out of anger, just because the family and the patient thought the healthcare professional just didn't care," said Sen. Vance.

This afternoon, the Governor also visited St. Christopher's Hospital in Hunting Park, to promote his Healthy Pennsylvania program.

It includes the re-authorization of the CHIP kids health insurance program.

Under the new plan, there's NO 6-month waiting period for kids to be covered.

However, other portions of the Healthy Pennsylvania plan have generated controversy. It expands Medicaid, but requires adults who qualify to pay a $25/month co-pay.

Medicaid expansion is part of the Affordable Care Act, with the federal government picking up the tab for several years. But Governor Corbett rejected that, saying state can't afford to pay when the federal subsidies fade away.

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