A decision Tuesday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court has created a hole in the state budget. The court’s 5-to-2 ruling, that a $200 million transfer out of the Patients Compensation Fund to help balance the budget in 2007 was illegal, could force lawmakers back to Madison to plug a hole in the budget. The justices not only overturned a Dane County court’s decision dismissing a lawsuit by the Wisconsin Medical Society, they sent the case back to circuit court with directions that it order the state to pay back the money with interest.
The Medical Society argued the transfer from the fund, used to help health care providers pay malpractice claims, was illegal. Dane County Judge Michael Nowakowski dismissed the case in 2008, but the Medical Society appealed. “We are extremely gratified with today’s Supreme Court ruling because it is a great victory for patients, their families and health care professionals across Wisconsin,” said Society President Thomas Luetzow, MD. “This ruling sends an important message that the Fund is not a piggy bank. The raid was wrong, and justice has been served.”