Awhile back I'd written about (see here) the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin, Jim Doyle, raiding a trust fund set up (and paid for) by Doctors to stabilize medical-malpractice insurance costs in that state. Why? In order to avoid unpopular budget and spending cuts to balance his budget. That case is still being litigated.
Taking inspiration from his Democratic cohort, Pennsylvania's governor, Ed Rendell (D-Pa) has targeted their state's Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund to the tune of $400 million USD to cover deficits in their state's budget. A summary of this can be viewed in the AMA News, here.
This program known as "Mcare" has been successful in partially turning around Pennsylvania's climate for being a horrible state for doctor's to work in re. to med-mal conditions. MCare provides doctors with catastrophic coverage for medical malpractice. Doctors in Pennsylvania purchase $500,000 worth of insurance from a primary carrier and then another $500,000 worth of coverage from MCare. It was also a key component of limited tort reform in that state. On its Web site, the Pennsylvania medical society has posted the question, "Would you continue to practice in Pennsylvania if you no longer received relief (abatement) from MCare?" Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would not.
FREE ADVICE: Ed, in a state struggling with access problems, I'm not sure that driving away health care providers is the way to go.
Governor Rendell has been progressive in trying to expand health care coverage in Pennsylvania (which is a good thing), but he has been unwilling to make hard spending cuts and unsuccessful in persuading his state legislature to fund his ideas thru taxes on tobacco and business not offering health insurance. He now is trying to play political hardball and quite willing to disrespect the health care providers in his state to do it. An article in today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette quotes the Governor as saying
"If I have to choose between taking care of doctors and taking care of someone who has cancer and doesn't have health insurance, it's an easy choice"This is an unbelievably cynical "straw man" tactic (ie. setting up false alternatives to make a rhetorical point).
There's no plausible or logical link between Mcare and his political failures, but merely he sees a pot of "easy money" sitting around funding a successful program whose constituents (ie. doctors) don't have the resources to hurt him politically if he steamrolls them.
To Governor Rendell, I ask you:
PLEASE KEEP YOUR HAND OUT OF THE COOKIE JAR!