Wyoming Governor Supports Doctor Subsidy

June 21, 2004

Gov. Dave Freudenthal said he supports paying a direct subsidy of up to $35,000 toward each Wyoming doctor’s insurance premiums to help keep doctors from leaving the state.

The subsidy would be for the short-term and on a “crisis basis,” Freudenthal said on June 18, until the state can work out health-care issues.

“We have a bridge to build until those take effect,” he said. “That bridge will be funding. If we don’t do it, we will have doctors leaving before any of the tort reform can take effect.”

A special legislative session is scheduled for July 12 and will focus on tort reform that would limit noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Doctors argue that lawsuits have made insurance premiums soar and many physicians are leaving the state as they cannot afford the premiums.

The insurance subsidy would cover 25 percent of a doctor’s premium, not to exceed $35,000 per doctor. It would cost the state $5 million annually.

“It’s not a cheap ticket,” the governor said. “I’m not real comfortable with it. As a philosophical matter I’d like to say no but as a practical matter I want to say yes. … It’s more important to be pragmatic than be philosophically pure.”

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