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  • May 26, 2023 9:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Hoven Consulting – WiHPCA’s lobbying firm

    • Update on the FY2023-2025 State Budget

    On May 2, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance voted to remove over 500 budget items included in Governor Evers’ Fiscal Year 2023-2025 budget request from further consideration by the committee.  However, it is important to note that even though certain budget items from the Governor’s budget request remain in the budget bill after this vote, a majority of committee members will still need to vote separately to approve including those budget items in the committee’s version of the budget bill.  Those votes will occur at committee meetings on various dates in the future, as the committee considers different state agency budgets.  In addition, the Joint Committee on Finance is able to offer their own budget amendments to different state agencies.   

    However, on May 2, the Joint Committee on Finance did not vote to remove funding for the following budget items that may be of interest to WiHPCA:

    • Nurse Educators –An annual increase of $5 million over the existing $5 million in annual funding.
    • Health Care Provider Innovation Grants – $22.5 million in grants to health care and long-term care providers to implement best practices and innovative solutions to increase worker recruitment and retention.
    • Personal Protective Equipment Stockpile – $17.2 million for DHS to maintain a PPE stockpile.

    On May 23, the Joint Committee on Finance voted on the budget for the Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB), which includes funding for the nurse educators program.  While an amendment was offered to increase the nurse educators program by $5 million per year – for a total of $10 million per year –that amendment unfortunately failed.  It's important to note that demand for nurse educator program funds has been less than anticipated.  That could be the reason why this amendment failed.  However, the committee did not modify the existing annual $5 million for this program.  In addition, HEAB anticipates that there will be unspent funds – at least $1.5 million – from Fiscal Year 2022-2023 that will be carried over to FY2023-2024.  Therefore, if Governor Evers signs the budget bill, the nurse educator program will be funded at least at a $6.5 million level in FY2023-2024. 

    • WiHPCA Supports Draft Bill Allowing Universal Occupational Licensure Recognition

    WiHPCA recently decided to support a draft bill that would allow the state Department of Safety and Professional Services or the relevant state credentialing board to grant a reciprocal occupational credential to an individual who has the same credential in another state.  In order to qualify, the applicant could not be under investigation in the other state in which he/she is credentialed and could not have any limitations or restrictions on the credential in that state.  Once an out-of-state credentialed individual applies for a Wisconsin credential, a provisional credential is granted immediately and the applicant would be able to practice in Wisconsin immediately, subject to the ultimate decision on whether to grant or deny the reciprocal credential.  WiHPCA’s Madison lobbyists expect that this bill will be formally introduced in the coming weeks.

    • Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Ends

    On May 11, 2023, the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended.  With the end of this emergency, there are changes in the response to COVID-19.  COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be provided free of charge to individuals until the government supply is depleted.  The state-funded Say Yes! COVID Test program will continue to provide free at-home antigen tests through May 2023, as supplies allow.  Eventually, however, all tests (antigen or PCR) will no longer be provided free of charge – individuals may have purchases reimbursed by insurance plans or may need to purchase them out-of-pocket.  COVID-19 antiviral treatments, such as Paxlovid, will continue to be free to patients until the federal stockpile has been depleted.  In addition, DHS will continue to operate its free-of-charge COVID-19 treatment telehealth service through December 31, 2023.

    • Governor Calls Special State Assembly Election

    On May 5, Governor Tony Evers called a special general election for the 24th Assembly District on July 18, 2023.  If a special primary election is needed, it will occur on June 20, 2023.  This vacancy was created by the election of then-state Representative Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) to the 8th Senate District, which was previously held by longtime state Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).  The 24th Assembly District includes portions of Waukesha and Ozaukee Counties, including the communities of Germantown, Menomonee Falls, and Grafton.

  • May 26, 2023 9:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By WI Senator Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton)

    As a healthcare provider myself, I’ve seen firsthand the dramatic changes the industry has gone through  in the last two decades. Digitization, growth in specialty care, and diversification of service models have all helped advance how providers deliver care to patients.

    Then a pandemic hit. This dramatically increased burnout, wore on the mental health of staff, and others simply left because of overburdensome restrictions. As a result, the entire healthcare system is still reeling from historic drops in staffing levels, with the pipeline of students entering the profession not keeping up with demand.

    Hospitals are now relying on traveling nurses, who can come at a cost almost three times as much as nursing staff. Nursing homes, who were struggling to recruit before the pandemic, are now closing entire wings of their facilities. Meanwhile, the shortage of providers in rural areas remains an issue and the pace of attracting professionals to Wisconsin has been slow.

    What can be done? As chair of the Senate Committee on Health this session, I’ve made it my mission to address these workforce issues head-on. There is no “silver bullet” solution–both investment and regulatory reform is necessary to improve Wisconsin’s nation-leading healthcare system.

    I’m focused on three specific areas to achieve this:

    ·        Boosting the attractiveness of healthcare professions to students. By highlighting healthcare professions and the rewarding nature of care, we can and should do a better job encouraging internships and other work-based learning programs for students to be exposed to healthcare. We also have opportunities to offer some loan forgiveness for our highest-need professions, reducing the financial burden on those who wish to pursue a career in the field.

    ·        Streamlining the school-to-work pipeline. I’ve proposed letting students who have completed their education and training to enter the workforce without waiting on a bureaucratic process that–in some cases–can last months. This would keep students here after college, allow them to enter the workforce immediately, and so long as their employer consents, start treating patients.

    ·        Allowing healthcare professionals to practice at the full extent of their scope. This includes our nurses, who are now operating in an environment that hinders their ability to practice independently. By unleashing this group of healthcare professionals, we can help solve two issues: attract more nurses to Wisconsin (which is desperately needed) and expand the pool of providers able to set up shop in areas that need it most.

    Though we can and should do more than this, we need to start somewhere. This is our opportunity to break down barriers, build a robust patient-focused system, and deliver more accessible care to Wisconsinites.

    Let’s keep moving forward!

    Sen. Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton) served one term in the state assembly and currently represents the 19th Senate District in the Wisconsin State Senate. She serves as chair for the Senate Committee on Health and Vice Chair for the Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children, and Families.

  • May 26, 2023 9:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WiHPCA is happy to remind members about and provide links to the latest articles and information from Hospice News and other publications:

    ·       Key Trends to Watch: Health Systems Moving into Hospice, Home-Based Care

    As more care moves into the home setting, more hospitals and health systems are throwing their hats into the ring. Coupled with the entry of more payers into the space, the influx of health systems into home health, hospice and community-based palliative care stands to change the competitive dynamics in markets nationwide. Read more…

    ·       Palliative Care Providers Walk a Reimbursement Tightrope

    Though revenue streams for palliative care are often shallow, these services can generate sustainable growth for providers who can play their cards right with payers. Providers walk a tightrope when it comes to ensuring that their palliative care services are financially sustainable, according to Lynn Spragens, founder and partner of Spragens & Gualtieri-Reed, a North Carolina-based health care consulting company. Read more…

    ·       Post-PHE Hospice Regulation: Preparing for the Reinstated Volunteer Requirement

    The return of volunteer requirements is among the regulatory changes being implemented with the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The U.S. Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2020 issued a number of flexibilities intended to ease burdens on health care providers during the pandemic. This included the temporary lifting of the requirement that volunteers provide at least 5% of hospice patient care hours. CMS will reinstate the rule as of Jan. 1, 2024. Read more…

    ·       Post-PHE Hospice Regulation: How Telehealth Rules Will Change

    By Holly Vossel May 9, 2023

    The future of telehealth in hospice care delivery is among the questions swirling around the expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11. Certain telehealth flexibilities temporarily implemented during the PHE are sticking around until the end of 2024, while others are rolling away as it expires. Though initially the telehealth waivers weren’t intended to be permanent, they will likely have long-term impacts in hospice. Read more…

    ·       Post-PHE Hospice Regulation: How CMS Could Unbend Infection Control Rules

    Hospices are wading through uncertain regulatory waters when it comes to infection control and prevention measures tied to the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11. Some infection prevention requirements instituted during the pandemic are expiring, whereas others could have a lasting impact on hospices’ health and safety policy. Read more…

    Hospice News, which is part of the Aging Media Network, is a leading source for news and information covering the hospice industry.

  • May 26, 2023 9:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Recognizing potential big changes on the legislative and regulatory front this year in Washington, D.C., the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) has once again planned ahead with strategies to protect the continued viability of home care and hospice across the country.

    In fact, NAHC recently posted its finalized 2023 Regulatory and Legislative Blueprints, which entail a comprehensive review of all NAHC policy positions on matters impacting the home care and hospice community.

    In addition, the NAHC Board of Directors has identified a list of specific legislative and regulatory priorities for 2023. These priorities, selected from the larger Blueprints, address issues related to workforce, home health, hospice, home care, and innovation. The priorities highlight the areas needed for Congressional and regulatory action to support and expand care in the home. The proposed priorities aim to improve access to high-quality care, reduce costs, and address workforce shortages to better meet the needs of patients and their families.

    The full Legislative and Regulatory Priority Reports are linked below for your review:

    ·        NAHC 2023 Legislative Priorities

    ·        NAHC 2023 Regulatory Priorities

  • April 24, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Hoven Consulting – WiHPCA’s lobbying firm

    • WiHPCA Supports Bill Allowing New Health Care Professionals to Receive Preliminary Occupational Credentials

    At its March meeting, the WiHPCA Legislative Committee agreed to support legislation to help previously unlicensed individuals in the health care field – particularly new graduates – to start work right away by requiring the state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to grant these individuals preliminary occupational credentials.  In order to qualify for such a preliminary credential, the applicant will need to have recently completed the requirements to obtain such a credential, submit a credential application and be engaged by an employer in the health care field.  The applicant and the employer will need to inform DSPS that the applicant meets all relevant credentialing requirements.  The preliminary credential will take effect when the employer submits this attestation to DSPS and will expire when the individual’s application for a permanent or training credential is granted or denied. 

    The Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform held a hearing on this bill on April 12.  WiHPCA’s Madison lobbyists will continue to monitor this legislation during the 2023-2024 legislative session. 

    • Temporary Health Care “Act 10” Occupational Licenses Will Continue to Be Available

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tony Evers signed into law legislation that became 2021 Wisconsin Act 10.  This legislation allowed health care professionals who are licensed in good standing in other states to work in Wisconsin immediately, without obtaining a permanent occupational credential.  This was to ensure that Wisconsin had enough health care professionals to treat Wisconsinites during the pandemic.  These temporary licenses are known as “Act 10 licenses.”

    This state law was tied to the end of the pandemic-related Presidential Emergency Declaration.  On April 10, 2023, President Biden signed federal legislation that ended this emergency declaration.  According to state law, the “Act 10 licenses” expire 30 days after the Presidential Emergency Declaration ends – which is May 10, 2023 – unless the license holder applies for a permanent license by that date.  If a license holder applies for a permanent license by that date, that individual will still be allowed to practice in Wisconsin.

    In addition, there is a provision in 2021 Wisconsin Act 10 that could benefit out-of-state health care professionals who seek Wisconsin licensure after May 10, 2023, and wish to practice immediately in the state.  If an individual’s out-of-state license is in good standing, that professional could apply simultaneously in Wisconsin for an “Act 10 license” and a permanent license and would be able to practice immediately in Wisconsin. 

    For more information on “Act 10 licenses,” please go to the state Department of Safety and Professional Services’ FAQ page

  • April 24, 2023 8:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The WiHPCA Legislative Committee is charged with developing the association’s legislative priorities and providing direction and support on public policy that impacts hospice and palliative care in Wisconsin. The committee, which meets once a month, also evaluates legislative and regulatory issues of importance as they arise and leads WiHPCA’s lobbying and grassroots advocacy efforts.

    As mentioned above in the Government Affairs Report provided by Hoven Consulting (WiHPCA’s lobbying firm), the committee recently voted to support Assembly Bill 144, legislation to address the state’s health care workforce challenges by expediting occupational licensing  for Wisconsin health care professionals. In addition, the WiHPCA Legislative Committee recently approved a member-driven grassroots advocacy campaign to encourage the WI Legislature to provide $10 million in additional funding to boost the state’s Nurse Educators program.

    The Wisconsin Nurse Educators program was established two years ago to support nursing education and increase the number of nurses in Wisconsin by providing grants to nurses enrolled full-time in doctor of nursing or mater of nursing programs. Grant recipients must commit to teaching at an approved Wisconsin nursing school for at least three years post-graduation. Providing additional funding for this program is more important than ever, as nursing education programs across the state are struggling to turn out enough graduates to meet the growing demand for nurses in Wisconsin.

    Please be on the lookout for a WiHPCA Advocacy Action Alert asking you to contact your state lawmakers and urge them to support $10 million in funding for the Wisconsin Nurse Educators program as part of the state budget bill.

  • April 24, 2023 8:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WiHPCA’s grassroots advocacy program is critical to the success of the association’s overall government affairs program. It allows our members to have a voice and influence in shaping public policy that impacts hospice and palliative care in Wisocnisn.

    With that in mind, we are pleased to report about WiHPCA’s latest legislative advocacy outreach effort. WiHPCA Board Chair Lynne Sexten recently hosted state lawmaker Rep. Ellen Schutt (R-Clinton) at Agrace Hospice in Janesville to discuss WiHPCA and the importance of hospice and palliative care to Wisconsin patients and their families. The meeting, which also included WiHPCA Advocacy Director Michael Welsh, provided a great opportunity to educate a key state policymaker about hospice and the challenges the industry faces daily.  Rep. Schutt did have a basic understanding of hospice, given she had a grandmother who received hospice care, but the meeting allowed us to provide detailed information about hospice and dig into WiHPCA policy priorities.

    Lynne did a great job briefing Rep. Schutt on the value of hospice and palliative care, as wells as WiHPCA’s state legislative priorities, which focused primarily on the industry’s workforce challenges. WiHPCA would like to thank Lynne for making time to host the meeting. As usual, she did a wonderful job leading the discussion. She also provided Rep. Schutt with a great tour of the Agrace facility.

    As mentioned above, grassroots advocacy is the most powerful tool WiHPCA has at its disposal to shape public policy – and building relationships with lawmakers is the most important aspect of grassroots advocacy. The meeting with Rep. Schutt was just the latest endeavor in WiHPCA’s objective to connect members with their local legislators. WiHPCA encourages all members to participate in this critical grassroots advocacy program. If you or your organization is interested in hosting a state lawmaker, please contact the WiHPCA office at  

  • April 24, 2023 8:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Late last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2024 Hospice Payment Rate Proposed Rule, which would update Medicare hospice payments, the aggregate hospice cap, and other hospice regulations.

    Under the proposed rule, the hospice payment update percentage would be 2.8%, which is an increase of roughly $720 million in payments from 2023. This is a result of the 3% market basket percentage increase reduced by a 0.2 percentage point productivity adjustment.

    The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) issued a statement in response to the proposed rule, which offered both their concerns and potential opportunities stemming from the proposed rule:


    • The 2.8% proposed rate increase for hospices is not enough to support the care hospices provide. Hospices are dealing with inflation rates that are at least twice that high, compounded by historical and ongoing workforce challenges. In 2024, pre-determined sequestration cuts will further reduce hospice reimbursement to a de facto increase of about 1%. Americans are increasingly choosing hospice for end-of-life care. Intentionally underfunding that care should be a non-starter.


    • CMS is using the proposed rule to advance hospice program integrity measures, curb fraudulent and abusive practices within the system, advance health equity, and increase hospice utilization. These efforts are in line with NHPCO’s ongoing work, including 34 program integrity recommendations made in January. NHPCO will work with the hospice community and CMS to help shape the following efforts:
    • The proposed rule would require physicians to be enrolled in Medicare to certify and recertify patients for hospice care. If designed and implemented properly, NHPCO believes this measure may help identify physicians who are engaging (or potentially engaging) in fraudulent or abusive behavior, presenting a risk of harm to Medicare beneficiaries or are otherwise unqualified to certify or recertify beneficiaries for hospice.
    • In this proposed rule, CMS announced it is soliciting feedback from providers via two Requests for Information (RFIs) – one on health equity in hospice and the other on hospice utilization, non-hospice spending, ownership, and hospice election. NHPCO welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback and is soliciting detailed comments from providers for both RFIs. CMS will have significant on-the-ground experiences from providers to inform these important issues around access, equity, and the integrity of the Medicare hospice benefit.

    Public comments on the 2024 Hospice Payment Rate Proposed Rule will be accepted through May 30, 2023. WiHPCA will work with NHPCO and our other national stakeholders to submit public comments that reflect the thoughts and concerns of WiHPCA members and the greater hospice community across Wisconsin and throughout the country.

  • April 24, 2023 8:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WiHPCA is happy to remind members about and provide links to the latest articles and information from Hospice News and other publications:

    ·         Citing Competition and Consumer-Protection Concerns, CMS Makes Hospice-Ownership Data Publicly Available

    In what the agency is calling an effort to promote industry competition and protect consumers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making hospice-ownership data publicly available. HHS is also releasing ownership data for all Medicare-certified home health agencies, the department specified in a Thursday announcement. Federal health care officials had already implemented a similar measure for the nation’s skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

    Read more…

    ·         How Hospice Labor Pressures Can Impact Regulatory Compliance

    By Holly Vossel April 20, 2023

    Industry-wide staffing woes are bleeding into hospices’ compliance programs.

    Many hospices are struggling not only operationally, but also financially to comply with regulations, according to Norbert Hudak, partner at in90Group, a Los Angeles-based business marketing and strategy development company. Read more…

    ·         NHPCO: Proposed 2.8% Hospice Payment Hike Insufficient

    The 2.8% base payment rate increase recently proposed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is insufficient to support hospice patients’ care needs, a major industry group said. CMS earlier this month released its 2024 hospice proposed rule, which included the 2.8% increase — an estimated total of $720 million. If finalized as written, the rule would also raise the aggregate payment cap to $33,396.55, up from $32,486.92 this year. Read more…

    ·         Younger Generations of Hospice Workers Value Career Paths, Work-Life Balance

    Hospices that are shaping their recruitment and retention strategies around work-life balance and career development have a fighting chance against competitors for sparse clinical staffing resources. As workforce shortages mount throughout the health care system, competition in the labor market has intensified. Hospices are increasingly competing with other health care providers for clinical staff as more reach retirement age without enough younger workers stepping in to fill the gap. Some also leave the field due to burnout, or because they found higher compensation or a better career path elsewhere. Read more…

    ·         CMS Working on Health Equity-Focused Hospice Quality Measures

    The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is moving towards the development of health equity quality measures for hospices. Last year, the agency convened a technical expert panel (TEP) to study the issue, according to language in its 2024 proposed hospice rule. Among the questions the panel has considered is the addition of new measures to the Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP). Read more…

    ·         Palliative Care the Next Generation: How the Service May Grow and Evolve

    Based on current trends, risk-based payment systems will likely shape the future of palliative care. The palliative care market is projected to swell during the next decade. However, no standardized definition exists for “palliative care.” Providers use a range of approaches to providing the service, from consults with advance care planning to short-term transitional care or longer-term symptom management for the chronically ill. Read more…

    Hospice News, which is part of the Aging Media Network, is a leading source for news and information covering the hospice industry.

  • April 19, 2023 10:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The most recent WiHPCA sponsored quarterly meeting with the Division of Quality Assurance was held April 12. The meeting provided valuable information for our members and the opportunity to engage with state regulators. During the meeting, DQA provided an overview of the following CMS documents, which are linked below for your review:

    More information is available on the WiHPCA website including registration for future quarterly calls.

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Wisconsin Hospice and Palliative Care Association

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