Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell unveiled a medical liability reform plan that includes some financial relief for physicians and trauma centers, as well as patient-safety initiatives and tort and insurance reforms. Rendell asked the state Legislature to raise Medicaid payments to obstetricians for delivering babies to $1,500 per case from $1,000 per case and to provide the state's trauma centers with $25 million per year in additional funds. He also proposed helping physicians pay their malpractice insurance premiums for the next three years, with extra aid going to the four specialties with the highest malpractice costs -- surgeons, obstetricians, orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons. Reaction to the plan was mixed. The plan "adds the governor's voice to the ongoing debate," but meaningful relief and long-term reform must include an amendment to the state constitution allowing voters to limit noneconomic damages, the Hospital & Healthsytem Association of Pennsylvania said. The Pennsylvania Medical Society said the proposal "fell well short of the mark," with no mention of funding or caps. Physicians also complained that the plan would add needless layers to existing patient-safety regulations. -- by Cinda Becker
Pa. governor proposes malpractice reform plan
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