Pennsylvania Hospitals Suing State for Malpractice Surplus Funds
The Hospital and HealthSystem Association of Pennsylvania on Thursday filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court alleging that the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell (D) has violated the state constitution by not providing funding for a program that helps subsidize medical malpractice insurance costs for doctors, the Philadelphia Inquirer's "From the Source" reports.
The suit requests that the abatement program, known as MCare, be fully funded by the state. Money for MCare comes from a state tobacco tax (Goldstein, "From the Source," Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/11).
The group said the state owes doctors and other providers between $446 million and $616 million in reimbursements for bills paid into the malpractice fund. Funding for the program expired earlier this year. Rendell has said he would not reinstate full funding for the program until the Legislature acts on his proposal to expand affordable health coverage to more state residents. Rendell proposed using $500 million of MCare's surplus to fund the expansion (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/12).
Carolyn Scanlan, president of the association, said if MCare does not receive the funding, the state is at risk of "a catastrophic loss over the coming years of physicians ... that will reduce patient access to care." Rendell spokesperson Chuck Ardo said that the association does not understand the law, noting that "the legislation does not provide for continued subsidies for malpractice costs for doctors and hospitals."
He added that Rendell believes that unless ordinary state residents benefit from a health care retention fund created with tax funds, then health care providers also should not benefit from it ("From the Source," Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/11).
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