When the state of Wisconsin raided the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund in 2007 to balance the state budget, the Wisconsin Medical Society took action, filling a lawsuit in to challenge the constitutionality of the raid and restore the money to its rightful place.
The State took a total of $200 million in two installments: $71.5 million in October 2007 and $128.5 million in July 2008; and the lawsuit sought to restore that amount, plus interest.
Following a Dane County Circuit Court decision upholding the raid, the Society appealed. In December 2009, the Court of Appeals asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to accept the case, bypassing the appellate court. The Supreme Court accepted the case and July 2010 overturned the raid and issued an injunction t preventing the State from transferring money out of the Fund in the future. Nearly $234 million—the money taken plus interest—was returned to the Fund in August, 2011.
Most Wisconsin physicians are required to contribute to the IPFCF, a trust created in 1975 to pay malpractice claims that exceed physicians’ primary layer of medical liability insurance. Since its inception, the Fund has helped keep physicians’ insurance costs manageable and protect patients’ access to quality care, making Wisconsin one of the most desirable states for practicing medicine. There are no taxpayer dollars in the Fund.
“The Fund is a stabilizing influence in the recruitment and retention of quality health care professionals, which leads to better access to health care for patients—something that’s a real issue for more and more of our rural and inner-city residents,” said David Hoffmann, MD, a Society member and family practice physician from Mauston who joined the lawsuit as an individual plaintiff. “In fact, before the raid, two physicians from Pennsylvania joined our practice because they wanted to continue to practice high quality medicine but could no longer afford their six-figure medical malpractice insurance coverage in Pennsylvania. One reason they chose to practice here was because of the Fund—it’s critical to maintaining the high quality of Wisconsin’s health care system.”
For more information about the lawsuit, click on the links below.