Voters Protect PCF, Louisiana Medical Malpractice Insurance

side note: The Louisiana Medical Society took heed from the woes of states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire. Both state governments raided their Patient Compensation Fund as a way of balancing their budgets. Both states’ medical societies fought the move in court; both medical societies came out winners. While both PCFs were eventually given their monies back, Louisiana voters enshrined the independence of their state’s PCF in the state constitution via a ballot initiative. The Louisiana Constitution now establishes the PCF as immune to any legislative attempt to take its funds.

On Oct. 22, Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that authorizes the legislature “to establish a private custodial fund, designated as the Patient’s Compensation Fund, for the use, benefit and protection of medical malpractice claimants and private healthcare provider members; to provide that assets of the fund shall not be state property.”

Previous to the ballot initiative, the fund was subject to appropriation by the state legislature for other budgeting purposes. The amendment protects the Patient’s Compensation Fund from legislative appropriation by establishing it in the Louisiana Constitution and defining it as a private custodial fund to be used only for the benefit and protection of medical malpractice claimants and qualified healthcare providers.

The Patient’s Compensation Fund was created by statute in 1975 for the purpose of ensuring that affordable medical malpractice coverage is available to private healthcare providers, while also providing a reliable source of compensation for legitimate claims of injury due to medical malpractice.

Six other states have funds similar to Louisiana’s Patient’s Compensation Fund. The Wisconsin Legislature removed $200 million from that state’s patient compensation fund in 2007 to help balance the state general budget; the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered that it be repaid. Although the Louisiana Legislature has never dipped into the Patient’s Compensation Fund to pay for other state programs, proponents of the amendment were concerned this could happen in the future.