The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund is “delightfully secure again,” so says Wisconsin Medical Society Senior Vice President Tim Bartholow, MD. “This is a real win, frankly, for every citizen in the state of Wisconsin. We’re grateful for the action today.”
Governor Scott Walker made the $233.7 million payment much earlier than scheduled, and that includes interest. “We’re paying that today to pay off our bills,” Walker says, “That’s important for a couple of reasons. First and foremost it’s important as we talk about what’s going on in Washington — that we show in Wisconsin we pay our bills … because we’re getting our fiscal house in order.”
Dr. Bartholow says the fund, which was established in 1975, had been fiscally sound prior to its raid, and now it’s been restored. He explains, doctors in Wisconsin pay into the state fund, which covers settlements of court cases involving medical malpractice. “It was started so that every citizen, if they were harmed in course of medical care, could have full recovery of their economic damages.”
Four years ago Governor Jim Doyle transferred $200 million from the malpractice fund in order to help balance the state budget. The Medical Society had filed suit to get that money back.
Bartholow says the uncertainty of the fund had an indirect effect on doctors’ confidence and likelihood of practicing medicine in our state. “There are physicians I know that made decisions to not come to this state. It was harder for us to recruit … because there was this contention over the fund.”
The State Supreme Court in July 2010 decided the raid was illegal. Also, a permanent injunction prohibits the state from future transfers.
The bill is being paid with money from the $636 million in higher-than-expected tax revenues announced by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in May.