HARRISBURG, Pa., March 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today released the text of his March 27 letter to physicians, which explains the March 31 deadline for MCare fund assessment payments:
Dear Health Care Provider:
In December, I wrote informing you that the state was in a unique position to extend MCare abatements for the next 10 years while providing access to affordable health care for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians.
As you know, legislative authorization for the MCare abatement expired at the end of last year. To give the General Assembly time to enact legislation to renew and extend the MCare abatement and also to expand affordable health care coverage for the uninsured, I directed the Insurance Department to extend the deadline for this year's MCare assessment payments until March 31.
I am pleased to report that on March 17 a bipartisan coalition in the State House of Representatives approved a landmark piece of the legislation -- the Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care (PA ABC) bill. PA ABC improves on my original health care plan. It provides affordable health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of currently uninsured Pennsylvanians, provides higher reimbursement rates for health care providers, extends the MCare abatement for the next decade, increases MCare abatements for all physicians to 100% over the next 10 years, and then completely pays off MCare's $1.8 billion unfunded liability without any further contributions from health care providers.
Members of the State House who voted in favor of this package deserve enormous credit for crafting and approving this important piece of health care legislation. I remain hopeful that the Senate will act quickly to review and approve this health care package that is a real win for doctors, other health care providers and for those seeking health care coverage.
As you know, for the last five years I have been THE champion of the MCare abatement. I proposed the idea initially and took the politically dangerous step of advocating a 25-cent increase in the cigarette tax to pay for it. And each year I asked the legislature to extend the abatement for multiple years. However, they chose to extend it only one year at a time. I intend to work hard to get the PA ABC bill considered and approved by the Senate. This legislation will lock in the MCare abatement for the next 10 years and pay off the entire MCare unfunded liability. What is in this bill is what we have been told -- over and over again by doctors and hospitals -- is necessary to ensure that doctors continue to practice in our state.
Because the March 31 deadline will not be met, you are now required to pay your unabated MCare assessment. I ask for both your patience in coping with the current situation and your help in ensuring that our legislators maintain their focus and attention and pass this critical piece of legislation so that Pennsylvania can cover the uninsured and finally solve our MCare challenge. If the Legislature acts accordingly, the MCare abatement will apply to this year as well, and you will get the amount of your abatement fully refunded for this year. With your support, we can make health care history here in Pennsylvania.
Edward G. Rendell, Governor
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit http://www.governor.state.pa.us.
Amy Kelchner (GOHCR)
|SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor|
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