The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 8, 2013

Fewer medical allegations than expected

CNHI Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG — While the state Department of Education looks to increase the fees for new teachers to pay for increased staff to handle misconduct allegations, the medical board last summer waived its fees for two years because there were fewer allegations of misconduct than feared.

Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said the issue arose from a change in reporting rules that required the state to be notified whenever a doctor was accused of malpractice.

Officials feared the change would lead to a crush of investigations.

But the crush never came, and as the number of health professionals covered by the medical board increased, the amount of money in the board’s coffers increased as well.

The medical board has an annual budget of $7 million, but because of the increased number of professionals paying licensing fees, the board collects $18 million in fees a year. The money can only be used for medical board activities such as investigating cases of medical misconduct.

The decision affected all health professionals licensed through the medical board including physicians, physician assistants, acupuncturists, athletic trainers, respiratory care practitioners and midwives.

Medical professionals renew their licenses every two years.

The waiver will save physicians $360. The waiver will save midwives and physician assistants $40. Athletic trainers pay $37 for their biennial renewal.

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