MCare: End it, Don’t Extend It

Governor Rendell and House Democrats have refused to extend the MCare abatements unless it is tied to their Cover All Pennsylvania’s/PA ABC plan (read my commentary on that plan here).

The MCare fund provides funding for medical malpractice awards exceeding $500,000; doctors and health care providers must buy private medical malpractice insurance to cover the first $500,000, and are required to pay into MCare to pay the rest. The MCare abatements use cigarette taxes to reduce what doctors and hospitals pay into the MCare fund.

MCare is simply a slush fund for trial lawyers. There is no justification for taxing low-income smokers more to pay off the trial lawyers in some perverse version of Robin Hood. Furthermore, as we pointed out in Government on a Diet, MCare only encourages medical malpractice claims by creating a pot of money to go after, and creates the illusion of fixing the crisis while eschewing real tort reform.

MCare abatements, and MCare itself, should not be extended, but ended. Doctors and hospitals should carry the full burden of medical malpractice insurance, and should pressure lawmakers to pass real reform—including joint and several liability reform and caps on non-economic damages.