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Hospitals sue Rendell over malpractice

Inquirer staff writer Josh Goldstein reports:

The Rendell administration has violated the Pennsylvania Constitution and law by not funding a program to reduce doctors malpractice costs, the state’s hospital lobby charged today in a petition in Commonwealth Court.

The Hospital & HealthSystem Association of Pennsylvania asked the court to order the administration to fully fund the so-called Mcare abatements, the state-funded program to reduce doctors’ malpractice costs.

Gov. Rendell has said he would not support the abatement program unless the state legislature first acted on his proposal to help more uninsured Pennsylvanians get access to affordable coverage. The Senate Republicans and the administration had not resolved the stalemate when the legislature adjourned for the year.

Carolyn F. Scanlan, president of the hospital group, said that without the abatement, which is funded by the tobacco tax, the state risks “a catastrophic loss over the coming years of physicians … that will reduce patient access to care.”

Rendell’s spokesman Chuck Ardo said the hospital association clearly didn’t understand the law “because the legislation does not provide for continued subsidies for malpractice costs for doctors and hospitals."

Ardo said the governor has said that if ordinary Pennsylvanian’s do not get a benefit from the health care retention fund created with tax funds, he doesn’t believe that doctors and hospitals should benefit either.

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