The decision by Maryland's insurance commissioner to allow health-maintenance organizations to pass on a 2 percent premium tax to their customers underscores the urgency of continuing to work on the medical malpractice issue.
We believe Commissioner Alfred Redmer Jr. should have held a hearing on the increase. But the estimated $10 to $15 per month per person increase HMO subscribers or their employers now face should spur the legislature to act.
Some background: Gov. Robert Ehrlich called the legislature into special session last month to pass a bill to relieve the financial suffering of the state's physicians, who were facing, on average, a 33 percent increase in their malpractice insurance rates.
Ehrlich suggested that the millions needed to create a so-called "stop-loss" fund to give doctors immediate relief could come out of the state's general fund. Legislative leaders pointed to Maryland's projected deficit and felt they needed a new, dedicated funding source.