Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gerald O'Malley, DO: What is wrong with the PMS?

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PMS) is arguably the most important professional medical society in the Keystone State. So why don’t they do something important to help the medical professionals in this state?

The medical malpractice situation in Pennsylvania is an unmitigated disaster for physicians and patients. The overt trial lawyer patronage on the part of the governor and state legislature at the expense of the citizenry is a model of corruption, cronyism, and racketeering that the rest of the country can study as a model of how not to run healthcare.

Unfortunately the PMS has, for years, tried to negotiate and cooperate with the state government. It took the theft of $808 million from the Mcare medical liability coverage fund last year to wake up the leaders of PMS that physicians can’t play footsie with trial lawyers or the politicians that protect them. As I have explained in previous posts, the Mcare fund is a pile of money collected from taxes applied to physicians, nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care agencies and was created for the specific purpose of compensating victims of medical malpractice.
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Late last year, the state legislature of Pennsylvania voted to take nearly a billion dollars from the Mcare fund to close a hole in the state budget (filling potholes, paying teachers, painting libraries, etc.), creating an unfunded mandate that will be paid by future generations of Pennsylvania physicians.

As a result of the theft of the Mcare money, the leaders of the PMS finally realized the futility of negotiating with the Pennsylvania state legislature. Recent e-mail communications and a “toolkit” pamphlet that was mailed to all members suggest that the PMS has decided to push back. Sort of.

The toolkit pamphlet is titled “Anatomy of a Raid – Challenge for Action”. Wow! Sounds like PMS got the message! They have finally figured out that there is no negotiating with the politicians in Harrisburg! Finally, our leaders are willing to get a little bloody on this! Let’s go! Let’s fight!

Excitedly I read the action plan to stop the legalized theft of my money and the hemorrhage of young physicians from the state:

Challenge #1: Learn more and pass it along
Challenge #2: Choose how you want to become involved
Challenge #3: Thank your legislators

Huh? Learn more? Thank my legislator? What the heck kind of challenge is that?
PMS joined the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania to sue the state in October 2009 and challenge the theft of the Mcare funds, but as the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, the state judicial system is as corrupt as the legislative branch. The headline from the Inquirer from Dec. 28, 2009, was “Oversight of Pa. judges is wrapped in secrecy. The Judicial Conduct Board, created to protect citizens from errant judges, is criticized as doing just the opposite.” This fight will not be won in the courtroom. It should be fought very loudly and publicly.

How about a few more lawsuits? How about a few press conferences? How about organizing a physician strike, for crying out loud? The PMS is bringing a feather pillow to a gun fight. It should hire a few union bosses to advise them on tough-tactic collective bargaining.

This is war and the PMS is playing junior varsity paintball.

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