For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
For More Information, Contact: Jane Garrott, Executive Director, (608) 257-5741

Governor Walker and OCI Recommend 5 Percent Increase in Fund Fees...to No One's Benefit

MADISON, WI – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) are pushing  for an increase in the amount  state medical providers pay for medical malpractice coverage while the State’s fund carries a record surplus.

The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (Fund) – administered by Wisconsin’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance – is designed to provide excess medical malpractice coverage to state health care providers.  Begun in 1975, the Fund now carries more assets than have been paid out during its entire 36 years in existence.

“Fund payments to injured patients and families are statistically low due to laws adopted in Wisconsin to curtail their legal rights,” said Ed Vopal, president of the Wisconsin Association for Justice.  “Yet, the State continues to increase and stockpile fees paid by medical providers, the costs of which get passed on to consumers.”

“Why are the Governor and Insurance Commissioner now recommending a five percent increase in Fund fees, when there is no clear benefit to state residents?” Vopal asked.  “We strongly question the need for these continued rate increases.”

From mid-1975 through the end of 2011, the Fund was named in 5,806 claims filed, and only 11 percent, or 662 of those were paid.  Of the same number, 86 percent, or 5,003 claims, were closed with no indemnity payment made.   (The remaining three percent of claims were still pending.)

In the first three quarters of the current 2011-12 fiscal year, the Fund had paid out only $134,000, while taking in $37.9 million per year in current Fund fees, and $54 million in investment income in 2010.

“At its current rate, the Fund will soon top $1 billion in assets, while Governor Walker still promotes laws that make it harder for injured patients and their families to seek justice against negligent health care providers,” Vopal said.  “If injured Wisconsinites so rarely benefit from the Fund, what is the purpose in proposing still higher fees and a higher fund level?”

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The Wisconsin Association for Justice stands with consumers to promote a fair and effective justice system for every citizen, not just the privileged and wealthy

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