Wisconsin Supreme Court: Health care systems cannot charge fees for electronic records

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The WIsconsin Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision Tuesday it is against state law for health care companies to charge patients a fee for electronic copies of their medical records. 

Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn provided the swing vote, joining the court's three liberals in ruling University of Wisconsin hospitals had no legal basis for charging Beatriz Banuelos a per page fee for an electronic version of her records.

The majority opinion, written by Ann Walsh Bradley, rejected UW Health's argument that nothing in state law specifically outlaws hospitals from charging for electronic records. 

"Although Wis. Stat. § 146.83(3f) provides for the imposition of fees for copies of medical records in certain formats," the opinion read, "It does not permit health care providers to charge fees for patient records in an electronic format."

Since his election to the high court in 2019, Hagedorn has provided the swing vote on a number of high-profile cases. He broke with the court's other conservatives in 2020, rejecting former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn the state's presidential election results.

He also sided with liberals in upholding Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home order during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, conservatives had a 5-2 advantage at the time, as Daniel Kelly was still serving the remainder of his term after losing his re-election bid to Jill Karofsky.

Kelly is the conservative candidate in Tuesday's Supreme Court election, which will determine whether conservatives maintain control of the high court. He's facing Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, the liberal candidate in a contest that has obliterated national records for spending in a Supreme Court race. 

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