MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s trial lawyers object to a proposed five-percent increase in what doctors pay to a fund that covers court settlements in medical malpractice cases.
The fund’s board recommended the increase, even though the fund currently has almost $1 billion – more than what’s been paid out in legal settlements since the fund was created in 1975.
A public hearing on the proposed change will be held June 19th before the board gives final approval to the fee hike.
The Wisconsin Association of Justice has issued a statement condemning the doctors’ increase. Lawyers’ group president Ed Vopal said Governor Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans have made it harder for injured families and their patients to file malpractice suits. And Vopal asks why the increase is needed when, “injured Wisconsinites so rarely benefit.”
But State Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel says Walker and his fellow Republicans had nothing to do with the fee hike that was endorsed. He said the board of the malpractice fund contacted actuaries, and decided that the extra revenue was needed to ensure the fund’s long-term solvency.
Fund administrators say it could be liable for up to $560 million in payments due to pending malpractice cases, and awards that have yet to be reported.
Under the new structure, different types of doctors would pay fees ranging from $1,500 to just over $10,000 for the most refined specialties.