Doctors are stopping states from digging into medical liability funds

As everyone knows, states are struggling to keep their budgets afloat, sometimes by digging into state-created medical liability funds. This hasn't sat well with doctors, who, in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania at least, have won separate court rulings against state officials barring them from borrowing against the med mal funds.

In New Hampshire, a superior court judge threw out a bill authorizing the transfer of $110 million from the state-created Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association to expand state health programs for underserved populations. The judge found the bill unconstitutional.

In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, a trial court allowed a lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the hospital industry to proceed, intended to block the state from taking an estimated $600 million set aside to help reduce physicians' liability premium payments. The pool, financed by cigarette taxes, was intended to help keep doctors in the state by subsidizing the fees they must pay into a state compensation fund known as Mcare, which covers half of their required $1 million liability coverage.

What's not clear from the coverage in American Medical News of this issue is whether these battles are likely to spring up in other states. But you know what, I think the odds are a pretty strong "yes."

To learn more about this issue:
- read this American Medical News piece