Monday, October 22, 2007

Transfer of funds from Patient Compensation Fund

There was no deal between the DOA and the Wisconsin Medical Society to transfer funds.

Over the last several days there have been some questions roaming around at whether or not the WMS was offering some money to the governor in transferred funds. Approximately, $100 million had been offered.

I emailed Mark Grapentine, spokesman for the Wisconsin Medical Society, in hopes of clarifying this issue.

Mr. Grapentine responded very quickly to clarify the position of the WMS and the $200 million transfer in funds.

He was very clear, there was absolutely no deal cut with the governor or the DOA.

However, there were talks taking place back in January. At that time in January, the WMS was offering $100 million in fund transfer, but they would need some changes in the current laws in order to protect the fund from future raids.

Obviously, at that time, the Wisconsin Medical Society and the Department of Administration were working together.

Here is a copy of the memo sent to Dan Schooff, Secretary of the Department of Administration, in January. Click on image to enlarge.

As you can see from reading the memo, the Wisconsin Medical Society is attempting to protect the fund from future raids and they needed the help of our government in order to protect this fund. They were willing to transfer $100 million in order to give the governor a portion of what he needed.

The Governor and the DOA rejected the offer and proceeded to write into the 2007-2009 a $175 million transfer.

According the Mr. Grapentine, the DOA and the Wisconsin Medical Society have not communicated since Governor Doyle placed a $175 million transfer in the budget.

Clearly there was not deal, but that did not stop the rumor mill. Unfortunately, it appears the only part of the rumor that made it out is that the Wisconsin Medical Society had been willing to give the governor $100 million. Of course, there was more too it than this.

In order to dispel the rumors, Mr. Grapentine released another memo in April, to the Joint Finance Committee stating very clearly that a deal to transfer funds had not been reached by the Governor and the Society. Once again the Society reached out to the Joint Finance Committee showing their willingness to work out a deal that would not only protect these funds from future government raids.

Here is a copy of the memo to the Joint Finance Committee in April. Click on the picture to enlarge-

Now whether or not the Wisconsin Medical Society should have reached out to our governor in effort to come to an agreement is really between the Society and her members.

I certainly understand why they would do it. They were tired of the fight taking place every two years.

However, our government decided that not only would they take more money than the original offer, but also they would do nothing to protect the raids in the future.

I cannot blame WMS for making this effort. They seem to be attempting to make a good faith gesture towards our governor.

Unfortunately, we all know what happens when you give our government an inch, they will take a mile.

I am glad to see that at least this latest budget will protect against future raids. Our legislators need to make sure that every effort is made to protect this fund in the future. Even if it means that current Wisconsin laws need to be changed, this fund needs to be provided protection.

A lawsuit is coming, Mr. Grapentine has assured me. To quote Mr. Grapentine’s email directly-

“If the Governor signs a budget that includes a raid, we will be suing the state before the "e" is dry in "Doyle."

I love this quote!

Now whether or not they can win a lawsuit is another matter all together. I am certainly no lawyer and I have no idea. I have heard different things from different lawyers- some say yes, some say no.

The Governor and the DOA must feel pretty confidant they will win or that the WMS will give up.

Personally, I wish the Society had made no advances towards our government when it came to these funds.

I guess we will see what becomes of the lawsuit.

I have to say, as a person that wanted to see that no funds were transferred, I am more than a little disappointed that the WMS was willing to offer $100 million, even if they were just trying to protect future raids.

It is a little tough to continue to jump up and down, now that we know that the WMS was all too willing to deal with the governor and the joint finance committee.

I am even more disappointed that the taxpayers will end up paying for a lawsuit when the Society, on several occasions offered to work this out, before the budget was set.

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