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  • June 28, 2024 8:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The 2023-2024 state legislative session, which began in January 2023, has ended. The State Assembly held its final floor date for the regular session on February 22, 2024, and the State Senate held its final regular session day on March 12, 2024.  While the Senate reconvened on May 14, 2024, for a “Veto Review” session day, during which they voted to override the Governor’s vetoes of nine bills, it appears unlikely that the Assembly will also reconvene to vote to attempt to override these vetoes.  Furthermore, it does not appear likely at this time that either chamber will reconvene before the November general election.

    The following are highlights from the current biennial budget law, as well as other relevant legislation introduced during the 2023-2024 legislative session.

    ·     2023-2025 State Budget:

    o   Allied Health Professional Training:  Provided $2,500,000 annually to expand allied health professional education and training grants.  Expanded eligibility for the program to include registered nurses.

    o   Nurse Educators:  Maintained $5 million in annual funding for this program. 

    o   Occupational Credentialing

    §  Software:  $3.57 million for occupational credentialing software and related maintenance.

    §  License Processing Staffing:  7 license processing contract workers (on a four-year employment contract).

    §  Customer Service Call Center Staffing:  6 license processing-focused customer service call center contract workers (on a two-year employment contract).

    ·     Other 2023-2024 Legislative Highlights

    o   Registered as “Other” – Enactment of Senate Bill 178:  Under this bill, if an individual is required to report deaths under current law (including hospices in certain circumstances) and has knowledge of a death that has occurred within 24 after a patient has either presented at, or is admitted to, a hospital or other similar facility (including hospices), that individual must contact the appropriate medical examiner or coroner to determine if the death is reportable under current law. As this legislation would dramatically increase the number of deaths that hospices would need to report – especially since these deaths are expected – WiHPCA members and its government relations team aggressively advocated the legislature to provide an exemption for hospices.  The version of this bill, which is now law, includes such an exemption.

    o   Support – Assembly Passage of Assembly Bill 736:  Creates a state Palliative Care Council, which would be “housed” at the state Department of Health Services (DHS).  The intent behind this proposed council would be to increase awareness of palliative care, which is often misunderstood by the general public, as well as some health care providers.  This legislation passed the Assembly unanimously and received a hearing in a Senate committee.  However, despite a strong advocacy push by WiHPCA members and its government relations team, the full Senate did not vote on this legislation prior to the adjournment of the 2023-2024 legislative session. 

    ·     Governor Signs Bill Creating New State Legislative District Maps

    o   On December 22, 2023, the State Supreme Court issued a ruling that Wisconsin’s state legislative district maps are unconstitutional and the maps for each such district must be redrawn before the 2024 elections.  State Supreme Court justices voted 4-3 in favor of this ruling.  The decision focused on specific state legislative districts that include non-contiguous portions of land, which the court found violated the state constitution.  Specifically, the court ruled that the legislature must redraw the boundaries for each state Assembly and state Senate district in advance of the August 2024 primary election. 

    o   In mid-February 2024, the Legislature passed a bill with a compromise version of state legislative district maps.  On February 19, 2024, Governor Evers signed this legislation.  As such, these new legislative district maps have taken effect for legislative candidates who are elected in November 2024.  These new maps may be viewed on the Legislature’s website.

    ·     Governor Creates Task Force on the Healthcare Workforce

    • On January 29, 2024, Governor Tony Evers signed an executive order creating the Governor’s Task Force on Healthcare Workforce.  Lieutenant Governor Sara Rodriguez, a registered nurse with a public health background, chairs this task force.  State Department of Workforce Development Secretary Amy Pechacek and state Department of Health Services Secretary Kirsten Johnson serve as co-chairs. 
    • In March 2024, representatives from WiAHC and the Wisconsin Hospice and Palliative Care Association (WiHPCA) participated in a joint meeting with the task force co-chair, Lieutenant Governor Sara Rodriguez, to discuss health care workforce issues.  Various issues were discussed, including reimbursement from insurers and public sector payers, medical personnel wage levels, and the potential to expand an existing effort to concurrently train high school students to be licensed practical nurses (LPNs), so that they are able to graduate from high school and immediately enter the workforce. 
    • Please be assured that WiHPCA’s government relations representatives will continue to monitor the work of this task force. For more information about this task force, please visit the task force’s website
  • June 28, 2024 8:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Help shape WiHPCA’s Policy Agenda for the 2025-26 legislative session. The WiHPCA Legislative Priorities Survey provides a tremendous opportunity to offer your input on what policy issues are most important to you and your organization. The purpose of surveying the full WiHPCA membership is to help association leadership develop a policy agenda and determine what legislative and regulatory issues we should on focus during the 2025-2026 Wisconsin legislative session.

    The survey takes only a few minutes to complete and will provide invaluable information used to help shape WiHPCA’s advocacy priorities moving forward. The survey results will be presented to the WiHPCA’s Legislative Committee and Board for further consideration. In addition to the member survey data, WiHPCA leadership will consider the following criteria when finalizing the association’s policy agenda and issue priorities: 1.) The benefit to WiHPCA members; 3.) The extent to which it will improve hospice and palliative care in Wisconsin; and 3.) The likelihood of legislative/regulatory success.

    Once the WiHPCA Board finalizes the policy agenda and legislative priorities for 2025-2026, it will be presented to the full membership and used by the WiHPCA Government Affairs team to guide the association’s advocacy efforts over the next two years.

    We value your input and encourage you to complete and submit the brief survey as soon as possible. Please CLICK HERE to take the survey.

  • June 28, 2024 8:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This task force’s most recent meeting was held on May 9 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus.  The initial portion of the agenda was a panel discussion on recruitment and retention that featured the following panelists:

    • Dr. Hannah Maxey, Veritas Health Solutions (NOTE: She served as panel moderator.)
    • Dr. Tom Kernozek, Professor and Chair, Department of Health Professions, UW – La Crosse (Task Force Member)
    • Heather Schimmers, President, Gundersen Health System (Task Force Member)
    • Ann Zenk, Senior Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice, Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA)

    Zenk discussed the annual workforce report that WHA publishes.  WHA is concerned about the “silver tsunami” – the increase of those Wisconsinites aging into retirement.  She also discussed that in 2022, the nursing shortage hit Wisconsin hard, as nurses comprise over half of a hospital’s workforce.  Kernozek discussed UW-La Crosse’s health education programs and how they partner with local school districts and health systems with a presence in the area.  With respect to challenges, he discussed their faculty recruitment and retention issues.  Schimmers discussed the hiring challenges that Gundersen faces and how they made changes to try to improve.  She noted that there is high turnover within the first 1-2 years of joining the health care profession and that the industry is not preparing the workforce enough for the hardships they will face in the workplace.

    The three panelists proposed a number of solutions:  Medicaid reimbursement expansion, loosen restrictions on requirements for faculty, uniform licensing processes, tax incentives for nursing preceptors (mentors), loan repayment programs for faculty, among others.

    The next portion of the meeting featured Dr. Maxey reviewing the themes discussed during the breakout sessions held during the task force’s April 4 meeting:  education, incentives, funding, and apprenticeships.  Please note that these issues were addressed in our summary of the task force’s April 4 meeting. 

    The final portion of the agenda featured breakout groups, which came up with numerous proposed solutions to workforce challenges.  The groups came up with numerous suggestions, including encouraging worker usage of employee assistance programs, target funding based on geography and need, expanding Medicaid, invest in apprenticeship and related programs, marketing campaign to seek health care workers, removing the state “benefits cliff” for workers who are promoted, encouraging high school students to seek concurrent training for certain roles (LPNs, etc.), tax incentives for preceptors (mentors), among others.

    The meeting closed with an announcement that the task force’s June meeting will review prior workforce improvement suggestions and transform them into draft task force recommendations that will be prioritized.

  • June 28, 2024 8:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In recent weeks, DHS announced that they expanded their statewide efforts to improve stroke awareness.  Wisconsin DHS has put in place the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program in an effort to prevent strokes and improve stroke-related medical care.  For more information about this program, please see the DHS website.   

  • June 28, 2024 8:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On June 10, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Susan Crawford announced her candidacy for the State Supreme Court seat that will be vacated next year by veteran Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, who is a member of the liberal court majority.  Prior to serving on the Dane County Circuit Court, Judge Crawford worked as an assistant attorney general in the state Department of Justice.  In addition, she served in the state Department of Corrections and the state Department of Natural Resources, as well as then-Governor Jim Doyle’s chief legal counsel.  She also worked as an attorney in private practice. 

    As this is written, former Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel – who currently serves as a judge in Waukesha County – is the only other candidate who has announced a run for Justice Walsh Bradley’s seat on the State Supreme Court.  If additional candidates enter the race, a primary election will be held on February 18, 2025.  The general election will occur on April 1, 2025. 

  • June 28, 2024 8:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Don’t miss out on WiHPCA’s next quarterly meeting with the WI Department of Health Services’ Division of Quality Assurance (DQA), which is scheduled for Thursday, July 25, 2024, at 10:00 A.M. The meeting will be held virtually and is open to all WiHPCA members and hospice professionals across Wisconsin. CLICK HERE to register for the meeting.

    The purpose of the DQA quarterly meetings is to create an opportunity for hospice and palliative care professionals to build and maintain a strong working relationship with a key state regulatory agency that oversees our industry. For members who have not had an opportunity to attend previous quarterly meetings, they provide members with valuable regulatory information and updates, as well as a unique chance to engage DQA staff, ask questions, and request guidance. If you would like to submit a question to DQA staff in advance, please CLICK HERE

  • June 28, 2024 8:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The 2023-24 legislative has come to an end, and legislators have shifted their focus to the upcoming election season and the need to connect with voters. With that in mind, it is more important than ever for WiHPCA members to strengthen their relationships with their state lawmakers (and new legislative candidates) to educate them on the value of hospice and palliative care, the regulatory challenges we face, and the legislative solutions we need to increase access to care for patients and their families. Rember, decisions state legislators make in the Capitol can have a significant impact on the hospice industry, your organization, and your profession.

    One of the best ways you as a WiHPCA member can engage your local legislators is to invite them to tour your facilities to illustrate firsthand the many benefits of hospice and palliative care. These visits provide a tremendous advocacy opportunity, which is why WiHPCA members across the state have already hosted numerous successful legislative tours. But we need to maintain the enthusiasm for this critical grassroots advocacy program, and WiHPCA is excited and ready to set-up additional tours today.

    If you would like to host a legislative tour at your site, please contact the WiHPCA office at wihpca@badgerbay.co. We will work with you and your legislators to coordinate the meetings and will provide participating members with full support, including legislator bios, advocacy tips, issue briefings, and supporting documents.  

  • May 28, 2024 2:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Now that the Legislature has adjourned their legislative session, the 2024 election cycle is in full campaign mode. Wisconsin’s state legislative and congressional district maps were finalized earlier this spring, which will create several very competitive races for control of the Wisconsin legislature. This, coupled with Milwaukee hosting the Republican National Convention in July and Wisconsin’s status as a key battleground state in the Presidential election and control of the U.S. Senate, will make for a very interesting 2024 election year. 

    State Legislative Elections

    Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature currently have large Republican majorities (Assembly – 64-35; Senate 22 to 10 with 1 vacancy in a heavily Democratic district in Milwaukee). All 99 Assembly seats are up for election.  In the Senate, 16 of 33 seats are up – eight of these seats feature GOP incumbents and four of them are open seats. 

    The current political wisdom is that Assembly Republicans are in position to maintain control following the 2024 election due to the number of Republican seats that are viewed as safe or strong for the GOP, in addition to the high number of GOP incumbents.  However, due to 2024 redistricting, the number of highly competitive seats has increased under the new district maps.  As such, it is possible that Assembly Republicans may lose a small number of seats, but not enough to lose the majority. 

    Likewise, it is expected Senate Republicans will also maintain control of that body in 2024.  However, the GOP may also lose seats in this chamber due to the increase of competitive seats because of 2024 redistricting.  To take control of this chamber, 13 Democratic candidates would have to win Senate seats in November, which is unlikely.

    To read the more detailed memo regarding the 2024 election, please click here.

  • May 28, 2024 2:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the coming months, WiHPCA will send a legislative priority survey to all members.  This will help WiHPCA leadership determine the policy priorities for the 2025-2026 state legislative session.  Please consider completing the survey once you receive it.  This will be a great opportunity to share your thoughts on the direction that WiHPCA should take with respect to advocacy. 

  • May 28, 2024 2:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In recent weeks, the Governor’s Task Force on the Healthcare Workforce launched its new website, which includes the following: 

    • An overview of the mission of the task force.
    • A list of names and titles of the task force members.
    • Schedule of future task force public meetings.
    Information related to prior meetings, including agendas and presentations.
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Wisconsin Hospice and Palliative Care Association

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Kimberly, WI 54136

Phone: 920-750-7726 | Fax: 920-882-3655

Email: wihpca@badgerbay.co

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