Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken joined Governor Mark Schweiker in seeking to postpone the due date for medical malpractice surcharge premium payments by the State’s physicians into the Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe (CAT) Fund.
Koken is seeking to assure that physicians who are insured by the Joint Underwriting Association (JUA), and who were granted insurance policies in January will have at least until April 30 to pay the premiums.
The announcement from the governor’s office confirmed that Pennsylvania Medical Society Liability Insurance Company has agreed to delay collecting the CAT Fund surcharge for 7,000 physicians it wrote policies for in January. If other malpractice insurers follow suit, up to 20,000 physicians would be able to delay paying the surcharge, thus giving them additional time to better prepare for their increased premium payments.
Koken stated that, “Certainly, this is not a long-term solution, but it does give physicians some breathing room while Gov. Schweiker continues to work with the General Assembly to enact comprehensive medical-malpractice insurance reform.” The recent CAT Fund deferral for doctors who secured coverage through the JUA mainly impacted physicians facing the greatest premium increases, “this surcharge deferral will impact a much larger group of physicians who received insurance through private carriers in January,” she continued.
The initiative is a further step in the Governor’s efforts to provide short-term relief for physicians until a long-term legislative remedy is achieved. (See IJ Website Dec.27, 31 and Jan.3 ) He’s also proposed a comprehensive medical-malpractice insurance reform as one of his highest priorities, and has urged the General Assembly to make malpractice reform its top priority when it returns to session on Jan. 22.
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