The Pennsylvania plan to help doctors pay their medical malpractice insurance premiums is on hold in the Pennsylvania legislature. The five-year, $1 billion subsidy lapsed this year when Republicans opposed a Democratic initiative to use the surplus from the malpractice subsidy to expand health care insurance for uninsured adults. The delay in renewing the malpractice subsidy is Governor Rendell’s refusal to renew the medical malpractice subsidy absent a global deal on the health care plan.
The subsidy works in Pennsylvania largely because the revenue source is a 25 cent tax on cigarettes. Accordingly, most people are not bitter that they are subsidizing rich doctors’ malpractice insurance because most people do not smoke. Of course, that money could also go to education, tax breaks, and a host of other worthy causes. I’m not opposing the subsidy, I’m just pointing out its slick political package.