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Society thanks Governor for prompt Fund repayment

Release Date: August 2, 2011
Contact: Lisa Hildebrand - 608.442.3765 lisa.hildebrand@wismed.org

Madison, Wis. – Less than a month after Dane County Circuit Court Judge Julie Genovese ordered the state of Wisconsin to pay $233,747,081.35 to the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (Fund), Gov. Scott Walker announced today at Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialists of Green Bay that he had made the payment.

“The Society is pleased the Governor made this payment today,” said Society President George M. Lange, MD, FACP. “Making the payment earlier than the legal settlement requires shows that he understands the gravity of the state’s raid on the Fund in 2007.”

On July 20, Judge Genovese ordered the payment following the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2010 that the state unlawfully took $200 million from the Fund three years earlier to help balance the state’s budget. Her order, issued pursuant to a stipulation of the parties, obligated the state to return the $200 million taken along with $33,747,081.35 in lost earnings and interest by October 1, 2011 – several months before the June 30, 2012, date designated in 2011 Wisconsin Act 27, which Gov. Walker signed into law in June.

“Gov. Walker’s actions today show that he shares physicians’ belief that the Fund is for injured patients and for maintaining stability in the medical liability environment – not for one-time budget fixes,” said David Hoffmann, MD, a family medicine physician from Mauston who joined the lawsuit as an individual plaintiff. “The Society thanks Gov. Walker for his commitment to righting this wrong.”

The Society filed suit in October 2007 following enactment of legislation that took $200 million from the Fund to help balance the state’s budget. The Society appealed a Dane County Circuit Court decision upholding the raid, and the Court of Appeals requested that the Supreme Court accept the case.

In a 5-2 decision July 20, 2010, the Supreme Court determined that the raid of the Fund was unconstitutional. In its decision, the Court remanded the case to the trial court for the entry of an order requiring the state to replace the money taken from the Fund together with lost earnings and interest. The Court also ordered the trial court to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the state from transferring money out of the Fund in the future.

With nearly 12,500 members dedicated to the best interests of their patients, the Wisconsin Medical Society is the largest association of medical doctors in the state and a trusted source for health policy leadership since 1841.