Pennsylvania physicians likely will have to pay thousands of dollars each in deferred supplemental malpractice insurance premiums by Dec. 31 because the state Legislature has failed to pass malpractice reforms, state officials say in a letter sent Tuesday to all doctors in the state.
Until now, the state has permitted doctors to defer payments to the state's Mcare fund, which supplements regular malpractice insurance, expecting that the Legislature would pass reforms drafted by Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell.
Among other things, the reforms would remove Mcare payments for some specialists (obstetricians, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons and general surgeons) and cut rates in half for other doctors.
In a release Tuesday, state officials say the Legislature still has time to pass the reform before the end of the year, but they admit that prospects of passage look bleaker and the state needs the funds.
"I have also consistently reminded physicians that, despite my personal commitment, I couldn't give them relief without legislative approval," Rendell says in the release. "Unfortunately, this message has not resulted in legislative action."
In a release today, the Pennsylvania Medical Society urged lawmakers in Harrisburg to keep trying to pass the reforms.
"The public awaits action in Harrisburg, patients and their doctors can't afford the crisis to continue," the society says.