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Physicians’ group pushes for MCARE abatement, tort restrictions

(11/29/2004) - A letter from the President of Pennsylvania Physicians for the Protection of Specialty Care to Gov. Rendell urged the Governor to sign HB 1211 extending 100% MCARE abatement for specialists for 2005 but also pressed Rendell for passing further restrictions for injured patients.

Text of message follows:

Dear Governor Rendell:

I wish to introduce Pennsylvania Physicians for the Protection of Specialty Care (3PSC). We are a coalition of high-risk specialty surgeons working together for the permanent abatement of the state’s Medical Professional Catastrophic Excess Insurance Program (MCARE) and other long-term tort reforms to bring balance to our legal system.

We are grateful for your early support for another year of 100% MCARE abatement for the high-risk specialty surgeons who staff our Commonwealth’s trauma units and emergency departments. We have worked hard and we’ve been successful this fall in the passage of legislation to extend 100% MCARE abatement for these specialists for 2005.

As you may have seen recently, our survey of high risk specialists found that patients in need of medical care for trauma, head injuries, bone or joint disease or complicated deliveries have fewer choices in Pennsylvania. This survey, conducted by 3PSC, also found that last year’s MCARE abatement was extremely important and did provide a bandage to Pennsylvania’s medical liability insurance crisis.

However, 3PSC’s survey also shows that the constant threat of lawsuits, unfair and often unprofessional testimony, and excessive jury awards continues to drive good specialty physicians out of Pennsylvania. Orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons across Pennsylvania continue to face a crisis in medical liability insurance affordability; fifteen percent of survey respondents report moving out of state or reducing their surgical services since July 1, 2002.

This survey demonstrates that patients seeking specialty medical care will continue to lose experienced surgeons who treat high-risk patients—head injuries, trauma victims, high-risk pregnancies—unless there is relief in the form of MCARE abatement and other reforms. Pennsylvania remains at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting even the thousands of doctors trained here because these residents would rather practice in another state.

More than 50% of orthopaedic practices and 50% of neurosurgical practices claim they are trying to recruit a surgeon into their practice. Of those indicating the length of their search efforts, 65% of orthopaedic practices report no success for over a year. 88% of neurosurgical practices report no success for over a year.

The challenges of recruitment are widespread, touching nearly two-thirds of the counties throughout the Commonwealth including urban, suburban and rural communities.

On behalf of high-risk specialty surgeons across Pennsylvania, I respectfully request your continued support for MCARE relief by signing House Bill 1211 into law.

3PSC thanks you for all of your efforts to date on this important issue of patient access to specialty medical care. We look forward to working with you and your staff as we advocate for continued MCARE abatement and for long-term relief through liability reforms such as limits on attorneys fees. Together these reforms will ensure affordable medical liability insurance and keep and attract quality specialty physicians for patients in Pennsylvania.


Charles D. Hummer, III, MD


cc: Steve Crawford, Secretary of Legislative Affairs

Rosemarie Greco, Director, Office of Healthcare Reform

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Physicians for the Protection of Specialty Care

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