(Previous Issues)

January 3, 2003

Medical Liability
Governor-Elect Rendell and Governor Schweiker announce immediate actions to deal with the medical malpractice crisis.
Challenge to Fair Share Act heard in court.

Federal News
Bush expected to propose changes in Medicare Plan.

Medical Liability
Governor-Elect Rendell and Governor Schweiker announce immediate actions to deal with the medical malpractice crisis. Governor-Elect Rendell and Governor Schweiker announce immediate actions to deal with the medical malpractice crisis. The following is an abbreviated version of the Governor-elect's short-term plan:

  • Legislation slated to go to the General Assembly on Jan. 22nd which would (1) eliminate the 2003 Mcare premium for four specialties: OB/GYN, orthopedic surgery, neurosugery, and general surgery, and (2) provide a 50 percent reduction for other physicians in the state. Rendell urged the legislature to take fast action (4-6 weeks) to pass the legislation.
  • At Rendell's request, Representative Curt Schroder announced he will re-introduce the Trauma Stabilization Act On January 22nd. This act would help meet the rising costs of operating trauma centers by creating a new grant program to support trauma centers throughout the commonwealth.
  • Rendell confirmed that the liability task force and Civil Rules Committee of the PA Supreme Court will recommend adoption of a rule of civil procedures requiring the inclusion of a certificate of merit by an independent physician with every medical malpractice suit in the state.
  • The Governor-elect has directed his medical malpractice task force (which includes among its members Dr. Majorie Bowman and Dr. Ana McKee) to submit proposals for a long-term solution to the medical malpractice crisis by April 1st.

Rendell praised the recent step by Independence Blue Cross to increase reimbursement rates for physicians for the third time since August 2001. In addition, Rendell indicated that based on his conversations with federal legislators, he believes there will be some rollback of cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to physicians during the next session of Congress.

While Rendell's plan is to ultimately eliminate the Mcare premiums, in the interim the Mcare assessment has been delayed. At the request of Governor Schweiker, Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken has delayed collection of the 2003 Mcare assessment for all health care providers whose policies are written or renewed during the period Jan. 1, 2003 through April 30, 2003. If you have any questions regarding the procedures associated with the delay please contact the Deputy Insurance Commissioner, Sarah Lowhorne at (717) 783-3770.

Federal News
Bush expected to propose changes in Medicare Plan. President Bush is expected to propose sweeping long-term changes in Medicare later this month when he urges Congress to provide prescription drug benefits for the elderly. While White House officials are still working out details, the President has said that he wants to foster competition between the original fee-for-service Medicare program and private health plans. Whether these reforms will include provider reimbursement increases is uncertain at best.



The Government Relations Weekly Update is provided by the Office of Government Relations of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Shelly Krycia or Alan N. Rosenberg
Government Relations Office
University of Pennsylvania Health System
2021 Penn Tower/4385
Phone: 215-349-5136
Fax: 215-662-3910

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