In Pennsylvania, Politicians Squabble Over Malpractice Aid

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As Pennsylvania pols try to wrap up a two-year legislative session in the next couple months, some big unresolved health-care issues are caught up in political wheeling and dealing.

A state program that helps most docs cover half of the $1 million in medical malpractice insurance they’re required to carry (and does even more for those in high-risk specialties such as obstetrics) has yet to be renewed for next year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

The program is funded by tobacco taxes. The state’s Democratic governor, Ed Rendell, wants to add 10 cents to the cigarette tax, and start taxing cigars and smokeless tobacco, in order to expand state-subsidized health insurance coverage to more low-income people in the state.

The Republicans who control the state Senate are wary of the tobacco tax increase, but Rendell has tied the increase to renewing the malpractice subsidies, which are supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. An editorial in this morning’s Philly Inquirer backs Rendell’s plan.

Photo of Pennsylvania’s capitol dome by Associated Press

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