Pennsylvania Voters Face Important Judicial Elections

Note: I am not endorsing any candidate, just explaining how the system works.

Few Pennsylvania voters are familiar with the judges up for election in a few weeks, right? Even though the outcome of the elections will influence government’s control over us for many years, few know how to begin to evaluate the candidates, right?

Since so few people understand the qualifications of the Pennsylvania candidates, and they need to raise money to get re-elected, there is a move to have judges appointed rather than elected. The counter-argument is that if a judge is appointed for life, it’s too easy for that individual, over time, to lose touch with those who are served, with no way to remove the judge. An election every ten years provides an opportunity for voters to re-assess whether a judge should serve another term. Pennsylvania has tried several different methods since 1776.

One important upcoming election is for Judge of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  For example, Judge Saylor is one candidate up for re-election. The way it works in Pennsylvania is that over half the votes cast must choose “yes” to retain Judge Saylor another ten years. If they do not, and most choose “no” not to retain him, the governor appoints a temporary replacement, with a later election to fill the vacancy. Since Judge Saylor has served on the PA Supreme Court longer than anyone else, he is the Chief Justice.

How can the average voter collect information about him or any other judge?  One source is Ballotpedia:,_2017

Another source is to check the votes that came in from attorneys from the local bar association or check your local political party, including your local committee person. The last place source of information to make a decision is what is said in a radio, television or Facebook ad.

If you have any insight about the upcoming Pennsylvania judicial elections, write a comment below.

Pennsylvania’s new “Right to Try” law for Hospice Patients

Governor Wolf signed legislation that gives terminally ill patients the right to try experimental treatments, such as investigational drugs, biological products, and medical devices, not yet fully approved by the FDA.

Pennsylvania House Bill 45 of the 2017-2018 session, was introduced by Representative Bob Godshall, who himself had the opportunity to use an experimental drug. His account appears here.  The bill passed unanimously by both the House and Senate.

Eligible patients are those with a terminal illness attested to by their treating physician, unable to participate in a clinical trial, who have a recommendation from their physician to try the investigational product, and have given full informed consent.

The law also gives health care providers immunity when recommending the use of an investigational product and protects them from professional licensure sanctions. Health Care workers are defined by this law as licensed health care facility, or a person who is licensed, certified or otherwise regulated to provide health care services under the laws of this Commonwealth, including, but not limited to, a physician, a certified nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant.

Thirty-seven other states have laws similar to Pennsylvania’s.

The law does not provide for health care coverage for those participating in the experimental treatments, but a manufacturer may elect to provide them to an eligible patient without receiving compensation. To be eligible, the patient may not be treated as an inpatient at any hospital.

Section 3 (1)(v) of the law expands the definition of a “patient” to include parents of a minor and Health Care Representatives or Agents under an Advance Health Care Directive.  However, the law seems to expand the “due diligence requirements” of those persons before giving approval.


Questions for discussion: Can any of the hospice workers/ physicians / or others on this list give insight as to:

Has anyone ever obtained FDA approval under a compassionate-use application for an experimental drug? What was it?

This post is filed under Legal Concerns (laws) affecting seniors.


To my connections on Linkedin and Facebook.  I’ve been loath to post too much information, due to anxiety related to the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board.

The board informs us that they regularly review our Facebook and Linkedin entries for misrepresentations, soliciting, commenting on privileged communications, prohibited comments about judges, and a host of other misadventures associated with posting. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to continue the column that I once produced for Patch News, entitled “ Senior News and Resources.” The topics of discussion will be events and issues that affect Pennsylvania seniors and those who care about them. In particular: legal issues, medical issues, financial issues, housing issues.

Within each of the major categories, there will be subdivisions for laws- including proposed laws; recent court cases; links to community resources; links to private resources. I am looking forward to lots of interviews and video!

Posts on our firm’s web page (www.lifespanlegal.come) will carry over to Linkedin. Anyone can subscribe to my posts via my firm’s web page, our Facebook page, or Linkedin. If anyone would like to see a particular topic covered, please let me know!

Minimum Age to Draft Advance Health Care Directive?

In Pennsylvania a citizen must be 18 years of age or older in order to draft an Advance Health Care Directive. Exceptions apply if the citizen is a high school graduate, married, or legally emancipated. But is that the most appropriate cutoff age for legal authority? Would it make you queasy to grant that power to someone twelve years of age? Well that’s exactly what some countries have done. In Australia, for example, anyone twelve years of age or older can draft an advance health care directive. See more here:


Agents under an Advance Health Care Directive – Lighten up for Best Results

If you are serving as agent under an Advance Health Care Directive, you are no doubt bringing your principal for the annual flu shot. Research suggests that watching a light movie or other entertainment prior to the shot, may improve its benefit!

See this New York Times Article for more information.