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Health care professionals get fee break

| Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania doctors and some other health professionals will pay less to renew their two-year state licenses.

The State Board of Medicine voted this summer to waive the $360 cost for medical doctors and the lower fees for others.

The board has $31.8 million in the bank, or more than four times its $7 million annual budget.

“It just so happens that they've built up a sizable reserve over the past several years,” spokesman Ron Ruman said. “Their feeling right now is they're good for the next two years, based on past experience.”

The money pays to investigate complaints and take disciplinary action.

It also is used to develop new regulations and administer the board itself.

It also funds the cost to defend lawsuits.

“Chances are we're going to be fine, barring a never-before-seen catastrophic expense,” Ruman said.

The deadline to renew for 2013 and 2014 is the end of December.

Ruman says state law prevents surplus money in that account from being used for other purposes by state government, which is in the midst of a several-year budget crunch.

Nearly 75,000 people are licensed by the board, including physician assistants, acupuncturists, nurse-midwives, athletic trainers and respiratory therapists.

The board consists of state officials, two people chosen from the general public, six doctors, a nurse-midwife and others subject to licensing.

Members are chosen by the governor, subject to Senate approval.

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