Pa. Supreme Court Limits the Cost of Obtaining Medical Records – A Victory for the Consumer
On June 16th, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court favored litigants with limited funds over companies trying to make a profit reproducing records, ruling that medical providers and companies that provide medical records to the public may only charge the actual and reasonable expenses of reproducing the records, provided those expenses do not exceed the statutory cap in the Medical Records Act, 42 Pa.C.S. §6152(a)(2)(i).
Although the decision in Wayne M. Chiurazzi Law Inc. v. MRO Corp. is based on a repealed section of the Medical Records Act, 42 Pa.C.S. §§6151-6160, the decision will affect many pending actions that address the same issues. The Court ruled that the plain meaning of the MRA prohibits medical records reproducers from merely charging the statutory limit for all reproduced records. Instead, the Court held that these vendors may only charge the actual and reasonable expenses of reproducing the records, subject to the statutory cap in §6152(a)(2)(i).
In particular, Section 6152(a)(1) limits a reproducer to charging “the estimated actual and reasonable expenses of reproducing the charts or records.” Section 6152(a)(2)(1) further restricts the total amount that reproducers may charge, which the Court calls the “statutory cap.” The Appellees, a for-profit records reproduction company argued that the language should be interpreted to allow it to charge the statutory cap for all records. The Court disagreed , concluding that the appellants’ interpretation of the statute was more consistent with the plain meaning of the statute. Therefore, record reproduction companies may not charge more than the actual and reasonable expenses incurred.
The cost of obtaining medical records can quickly become very high. The Court’s interpretation of the statute ensures that an already expensive process does not become needlessly more expensive.