PHILADELPHIA – Gov. Edward G. Rendell today said that Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (Mcare) claims have dropped by 50 percent since he took office and, as a result of reforms, more insurers are writing malpractice policies in Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania is a success story when it comes to medical malpractice,” Rendell said during a news conference at the Philadelphia College of Physicians. “Our actions have reversed the trend. Thanks to thoughtful legislative reforms passed in 2002, along with aggressive judicial and administrative reforms implemented since then, the number of malpractice cases being filed and the cost of malpractice insurance continue to drop.”
The Governor pointed out that the 2007 claims payments for Mcare, which is the second layer of insurance that health care providers must purchase, are 50 percent less than was paid in 2003.
“One indicator of the improvements of Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice climate is the number of claims being paid by Mcare, the state-run coverage for eligible health care providers,” Rendell said. “For the fourth straight year, the amount and number of claims paid by Mcare will decrease. This year, Mcare will pay approximately $191 million in claims, half of what was paid when I first took office in 2003.”
The improved malpractice climate is also evidenced by the fact that the two largest private medical malpractice carriers, PMSLIC and MedPro, have recently filed for rate decreases with the Insurance Department for an average of 11 percent and an average of 6 percent, respectively. Also, there is renewed interest by companies that want to sell medical malpractice insurance in Pennsylvania, with 57 newly licensed entities writing medical malpractice coverage since April of 2002, giving doctors greater choice of insurers.
Health care providers in Pennsylvania are required to carry $1 million worth of medical malpractice insurance – the first $500,000 from a commercial insurance company and the second $500,000 from Mcare.
At the beginning of Rendell’s administration, claims payments were at an all time high and Pennsylvania was facing a medical malpractice affordability crisis. The administration acted quickly and built on the reforms passed in 2002 by the General Assembly to address the concerns of the physician community and the public.
In addition to decreasing claims payouts by the Mcare Fund, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts has reported that statewide medical malpractice filings of all kinds were 38 percent lower in 2006 than in the 2000-2002 base period before the reforms were implemented.
“I am encouraged by these signs of improvement and am committed to making sure they continue so that the number of physicians practicing in Pennsylvania not only remains constant as it has in past few years, but that it will grow,” the governor said.