Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell proposed extending for two years the state's MCare abatement program, which helps physicians pay their malpractice premiums, until legislative reforms passed in 2002 take full effect.
MCare is a government-managed fund that acts as a supplement to traditional, privately controlled medical malpractice insurance. Under the abatement program, which was designed to encourage doctors to continue practicing in Pennsylvania, high-risk specialists such as orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons and obstetricians-gynecologists had 100% of their MCare surcharge abated since 2003. All other physicians received a 50% abatement.
Claims from the secondary layer of insurance, or MCare Fund, declined in 2004, the first year one would likely see the effect of malpractice reform, and in 2005 MCare payouts will dramatically decrease to $232 million from a high of nearly $379 million in 2003, Rendell said. Though the state has started "to turn the corner on the medial malpractice problem," another two years of the abatement will ensure that the reforms have a chance to become fully effective, Rendell said.
The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania supports the proposal.