Gov. Bob Wise delivers West Virginia's State of the State address tomorrow, with legislative leaders saying for the third straight year that they're in the dark about what Wise will propose. We hope legislators' sensitivity over this slight doesn't delay action on the session's top priority - finding a solution to the state's medical malpractice crisis.
Despite pleas from state officials, doctors in the state's Northern Panhandle walked off the job recently in protest of soaring malpractice insurance rates. A state-run plan set up last year hasn't produced competitive rates, they said, because the state needs lawsuit reform as well.
If there's no solution, doctors could relocate to states where insurance rates are lower, leaving West Virginians without adequate medical care - and with little prospect of drawing new jobs to the state.
Pumping more money into the state-run insurance system will be tough because the state already faces a budget deficit of $250 million. The debate over how to raise the funds needed will be heated and more difficult than it should have been because the governor hasn't given top lawmakers a clue on what he's got in mind.