Friday, September 25, 2009

9/25/09-Liability/Health News ALERT - CALL PA legislators NOW to save Mcare Fund

9/25/09 - Liability and Health News ALERT
PLEASE CALL PA legislators NOW to save Mcare Fund

by Donna Baver Rovito, Editor, "Liability and Health News Update"
Author, "Pennsylvania's Disappearing Doctors"

This LIABILITY UPDATE/Health Care Focus "newsletter" is a free service which I provide, as a volunteer, to help supply medical liability reform and other health care news and information, legislative updates, and political insight to physicians, patients, liability reform and quality health care advocates. NO ONE pays me to do this.

I am not employed by any physician or health care reform advocacy or liability reform organization, political party or candidate, although I volunteer for several. I am a quality health care, physician and patient advocate, breast cancer survivor, physician's spouse, journalist, political noisemaker, mom, and freelance writer. I am not nor will I ever claim to be unbiased, unlike many in the mainstream media.

Most information in this newsletter is copied and pasted from other sources, and will always be identified with links. Opinions and clarifications are my own, and do not reflect the official position of any physician or patient advocacy organization, tort reform, or health care reform group unless stated as such. My opinions are placed in double parentheses ((xxxxxx)), italicized and appear in blue. This Update is emailed to health professionals, physician and patient advocates, and others interested in ensuring access to quality medical care.

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This ACTION ALERT includes the latest information from the PA Medical Society, which has been fighting to preserve the Mcare Fund for as long as the budget process has been going on. It is a last-ditch effort to save the portion of the Mcare Fund which was generated by physician and other health care providers' payments into the fund - i.e., YOUR MONEY, paid into the fund to protect you from future claims.

Please make the calls as soon as you get this email whether you're a member of the PA Medical Society or not (although all of the physicians in the state SHOULD BE....but that's a discussion for another time.)

PLEASE MAKE THE CALLS RIGHT NOW - phone numbers are included in the second item.



From the PA Medical Society website:
Medical Society Fighting to Avoid Loss of Mcare Balance

The Pennsylvania Medical Society is pulling out all the stops in a home-stretch drive to save the money that you paid into the Mcare Fund from being used to balance the state budget.

A budget deal being hammered out right now in the General Assembly would take the more than $100 million of the balance in the Mcare Fund—a surplus that only exists because physicians and other health care providers have paid excess Mcare assessments.

We have appealed to members over the last week to call state legislators and oppose using the Mcare money to balance the state budget. We’re now
asking physicians to call the members of the state budget conference committee and tell them the same thing. The conference committee may meet as early as Friday, Sept. 25, with a budget coming as soon as next week.

We also have:
Coordinated with county medical societies and specialty societies to reach out to their members
Kept up constant contact with legislative leaders, rank-and-file lawmakers, and legislative staff
Sent a letter from President Daniel J. Glunk, MD, to legislators
Reached out to the media
Explored legal options in partnership with The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP)

Check for the latest updates.


From the PA Medical Society website:
Capitol Insight Action Alert: Sept. 23, 2009

((This extremely valuable publication is generally provided to members only - I'm assuming the emergent nature of the issue before us is the reason it appears on the public side of the website, and therefore, sending it along as well....))

State Budget Balanced with Physician Dollars? Tell Lawmakers NO!

The members of the legislative conference committee on the state budget may meet as early as Friday morning. On the table is more than $100 million of your money paid to the state mandated Mcare Fund for your liability insurance coverage.

This most recent budget proposal takes your premium dollars to help balance the state budget—in essence, a “physician tax.”

The Pennsylvania Medical Society is pursuing all avenues in the courts and in the halls of our state capitol to stop this legislative raid on health care dollars.

Your calls can make the difference.

In the next 24 hours,
please call all of these conference committee members

Rep. Dwight Evans—(717) 783-1540
Rep. Todd Eachus—(717) 787-2229
Sen. Robert Mellow—(717) 787-6481
Sen. Dominic Pileggi—(717) 787-4712
Sen. Jake Corman—(717) 787-1377

Your message: “I strongly urge you to oppose any proposal that uses my Mcare insurance premiums to balance the state budget.” Be sure to tell them where you practice.

Also, please call and thank Rep. Sam Smith at (717) 787-3845 for having the courage to be the only conferee who opposes using our money to balance the state budget.

Thank you for speaking up to save health care dollars.

Last Updated: 9/23/2009


From the PA Medical Society website - Letter from PMS President Dan Glunk
Letter to Lawmakers on Mcare Fund Raid

I am writing on behalf of the Pennsylvania Medical Society to express our strong opposition to the use of $100 million of physician and hospital premium dollars from the Mcare Fund to balance the state budget. Diverting liability insurance assessments paid by hospitals, individual physicians and other health care providers to the General Fund is bad public policy, and a breach of faith with the state’s provider community. We urge you to vote against this proposal.

The state-run Mcare Fund provides mandated liability insurance coverage to hospitals, physicians and other providers, and in turn charges those providers an annual assessment (premium) to pay for that coverage. While the Fund has been supplemented by automobile moving violation surcharges since 2004, this money was committed to and spent on the discount and abatement programs. It is not part of the current Mcare Fund balance.

Let me be clear about the current Mcare balance. It has resulted from excess premiums paid by physicians, hospitals, nurse midwives, podiatrists and nursing homes.

Additionally, the Mcare Fund balance is the subject of an ongoing administrative appeal before the Insurance Department filed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Podiatric Medical Association. In that litigation, both the Medical Society and the Mcare Fund have said that the existing balance should be used for the benefit of patient care providers, either to pay claims and expenses or to lower Mcare assessments.

In view of the litigation and the fact that the Mcare Fund balance was generated by premiums paid by hospitals, physicians and other providers, we strongly oppose the proposal to use any portion of the Mcare Fund balance to balance the state budget. Pennsylvania physicians already pay some of the highest liability insurance premiums in the nation, and appropriating those premium dollars for other purposes will send a devastating message to medical students and residents who are deciding where to provide patient care.

By taking more than $700 million of the Health Care Provider Retention Account balance (also the subject of litigation), another $100 million of the Mcare Fund balance and millions more in hospital cuts, the state is balancing the budget on the backs of health care providers. We believe this is legally wrong, bad public policy and a breach of faith with Pennsylvania patients and physicians. Please vote no on the budget proposal.

Sincerely, Daniel J. Glunk, MD
Last Updated: 9/24/2009


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