The Pennsylvania state board in charge of regulating doctors and other healthcare providers has a $30 million surplus, reports Amy Worden of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Beyond its licensing responsibilities, the board is responsible for investigating complaints and lawsuits filed against doctors, and taking appropriate enforcement action.
Recently, there had been a large public outcry against the board in response to the Kermit Gosnell case. Dr. Gosnell operated an abortion clinic in West Philadelphia. In 2011, Gosnell and several of his employees were indicted with 8 counts of murder related to fetuses that were delivered alive and then killed by Gosnell at the clinic. Apparently, numerous complaints had been made against Gosnell between 2002 and 2009, and evidence was presented to the grand jury that the licensing board knew of problems at Gosnell’s clinic but did nothing. There was a time when the board had substantial deficits. But now it appears the board is $30 million in the black. Instead of using the excess funds to hire more investigators or taking further steps toward investigating and enforcing rogue doctors, the board will be using the money to give doctors a break on their licensing fees. While the board has, to date, declined to comment on the fee holiday, the decision undoubtedly will not sit well with some citizens. It would seem a board with a weak record of policing doctors could spend the surplus in other ways that would better serve the public.
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