Medical Exam. Board must proceed with $2 million budget

MILWAUKEE -- Is Wisconsin opening itself up to bad doctors? That question is being presented by the man who's supposed to protect us from those bad doctors, but with huge cuts coming to the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board, the chairman, Dr. Sheldon Wasserman, says he's worried about what that means for Wisconsin's doctors.

With a total budget of about $2 million, the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board is going to have to examine how it moves forward. The Medical Examining Board investigates and protects patients from the so-called bad apples of the profession. "We've removed a lot of bad doctors who should have never been practicing in the state. We've suspended them, taken licenses away," Dr. Wasserman said.

A health research group ranked Wisconsin 48th in the country when it comes to disciplining its doctors. So in 2009, Wisconsin physicians decided to increase their own licensing fees, Wasserman says, to better police their profession.

An example of the Board's action is when it suspended the license of Dr. Robert Wetzler. He was the focus of an ongoing FOX6 investigation that discovered he ran a cash-for-pills clinic that was connected to a series of overdoses.

A member of the Joint Finance Committee told FOX6 there has been a refocus on disciplining bad doctors in the state of Wisconsin, and he doesn't believe that is going to change. "I am confident in the restructure and refocus on this issue, that it's not always about money. That it's about lasering a focus on the problems that do exist,"

Governor Walker's spokesperson Cullen Werwie told FOX6 in a statement the Board's lapse "will not be a permanent cut, and will not limit the ability of the Board to fill the two vacant positions."

Dr. Wasserman is a former Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to take up this issue in February, where there will be public testimony, and things could change.