Wednesday, October 6, 2010

PA Lawmakers Okay MCARE Extension

The House and Senate have approved a bill extending Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice fund but Governor Rendell hasn’t decided whether or not he’ll sign it into law.
The measure, which passed the House on a 117-81 vote, extends Pennsylvania’s MCARE fund for another seven years.
Scot Chadwick of the Pennsylvania Medical Society has some problems with the measure.
He points out current law gives Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner the chance to reconfigure every two years the ratio of private and public coverage hospitals are required to purchase, but this bill locks a 50-50 split into place through 2017.

"I think we’ve always felt that the private insurance market can do a better job of selling insurance than the state can. A free market competitive system allows more choice, allows, probably, for better pricing."

Acting Insurance Commissioner Robert Pratter wants MCARE to roll over excess funds from year to year.

"We would have concerns with using that entire fund balance. Because in 2011, you might have payments go up. And at that point, the MCARE fund wouldn’t have enough money to meet its expenses, and would have to borrow money, so the assessments would go up."

Governor Rendell is also unhappy with the measure's language returning unspent funds to hospitals, instead of rolling the money into the next year of coverage.
Pennsylvania has paid out 329 MCARE claims this year, compared to a high of 701 in 2003.

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