Cover All Pennsylvanians Plan Would Not Drive Up Costs

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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A recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece that claimed Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's (D) "Cover All Pennsylvanians" plan would increase health care costs and drive physicians out of the state is "flat out wrong," Pennsylvania Secretary of Policy and Planning Donna Cooper writes in a Journal letter to the editor. According to Cooper, the opinion piece states that "'Rendell wants his health care program to be funded by the premiums doctors paid into Mcare,'" which provides subsidies to help physicians cover medical malpractice insurance premiums, but she writes, "The governor has simply never proposed that."

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She says that the surplus the opinion piece "claims is 'being raided' to help pay for the uninsured is actually extra cigarette-tax money that we haven't had to use to pay for malpractice insurance for doctors." Cooper adds that the Rendell administration "figured that if we've given the doctors $1 billion of state funds so far to reduce their medical malpractice insurance expenses, we can certainly help the uninsured." In addition, she writes that the statistics presented in the opinion piece on the number of physicians leaving the state are "misleading" and that the "best data available" show "that we actually have about 2,000 more doctors now than we did in 2003."

She continues, "I'm not sure how having a program so that people have insurance makes health care more expensive, as [the opinion piece] alleges. But I do know that in Pennsylvania today an estimated 6.5% of our health care premiums go toward covering the uninsured." Cooper writes that the governor's plan "would have been worth an additional $2 billion to our doctors, in addition to the other benefits such as seeing paying customers and having a healthier population." She concludes that what the state really needs is "fewer inaccurate political attacks, and more health care for Pennsylvanians" (Cooper, Wall Street Journal, 11/12).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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