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  • March 27, 2024 11:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 20, the state Assembly approved Assembly Bill 736 – a bill creating a state Palliative Care Council – by voice vote.  Prior to that, the Assembly Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care voted unanimously (16-0) to recommend approval of this legislation.  WiHPCA worked closely with the authors of this legislation, state Rep. Patrick Snyder (R-Wausau) and state Sen. Jesse James (R-Eau Claire Area), in the drafting of this bill.  WiHPCA is grateful to Rep. Snyder and Sen. James for their tireless efforts on this legislation.  In fact, you may watch a brief video (3 minutes, 40 seconds) of Rep. Snyder discussing this bill on the floor of the state Assembly

    The state Palliative Care Council created by this bill would advise the state Department of Health Services (DHS) and provide recurring reports to the Legislature.  More specifically, the proposed palliative care council would work with DHS on analyzing existing palliative care programs, as well as identifying ways in which health care providers could improve the quality of life for patients throughout our state.  This council would not only improve awareness of palliative care – a type of care that is often misunderstood – but will ultimately help with increasing access to this specialized type of care.

    Once AB736 passed the Assembly, it was referred to the Senate.  Specifically, it was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations.  This committee held a hearing on the Senate companion version of this bill – Senate Bill 703 – on February 1.  Unfortunately, however, this bill faced some political obstacles.  Committee Chairman/Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) indicated after the February 1 hearing that he did not plan on voting this legislation out of his committee. 

    In response to this obstacle, WiHPCA’s government relations representatives aggressively lobbied Senate leadership to attempt to bring this bill to a vote before the full Senate.  In support of that effort, WiHPCA sent out an Action Alert to all WiHPCA member agencies, as well as a separate Action Alert to all WiHPCA member agency volunteers, requesting individuals to contact their respective state senators to ask them to contact Senator Stroebel to vote the bill out of his committee.  We greatly appreciate the efforts of WiHPCA member agency staff, as well as volunteers, in advocating for the Senate passage of this legislation!  Unfortunately, however, this bill ultimately did not pass the state Senate before it adjourned for the 2023-2024 legislative session in mid-March. 

     In addition, we would like to share that Wisconsin Public Radio interviewed WiHPCA board chair Lynne Sexten – the President and CEO of Agrace Hospice and Palliative Care – regarding the palliative care council bill during the March 4 edition of WPR’s Morning Show.  The audio of this interview may be heard here (you will need to scroll down the page slightly to find the “Listen” button for this topic).  

  • March 27, 2024 11:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On March 7, representatives from WiHPCA and the Wisconsin Association for Home Health Care (WiAHC) participated in a joint virtual meeting with Lieutenant Governor Sara Rodriguez to discuss health care workforce issues.  Lt. Gov. Rodriguez, a registered nurse, chairs the newly formed Governor’s Task Force on the Healthcare Workforce.  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), which would enable them to graduate from high school and immediately enter the workforce. 

    Future task force meetings will be held each month from April through August.  The following is the schedule that is currently available:

    • Thursday, April 4th, 1-4pm, Madison (Hill Farms State Office Building – Room TBD)
    • Thursday, May 9th, 1-4pm, La Crosse (Location TBD)
    • Thursday, June 6th, 1-4pm, Milwaukee (Location TBD)
    • Thursday, July 11th, 1-4pm, Green Bay (Location TBD)
    • Thursday, August 8th, 1-4pm, Madison (Hill Farms State Office Building – Room TBD)

    In addition, the task force will launch a website in the future.  Once that occurs, that will be shared in a future edition of this newsletter. 

  • March 27, 2024 11:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.  If the Legislature and Governor Evers were not able to agree on legislation creating new district boundaries, the court noted that it would decide on the new boundaries.  As a practical matter, the state Elections Commission noted that new district boundaries needed to be finalized by March 15, 2024. 

    In January, the parties to the case submitted various proposed state legislative district maps to the court and the court-appointed consultants reviewed these maps and provided their analysis to the court on February 1.  However, in mid-February, the Legislature passed a bill with the version of state legislative district maps that Governor Evers previously submitted to the court.  This legislation passed both chambers of the Legislature with mostly Republican votes and was sent to the Governor.  On February 19, Governor Evers signed this legislation.  As such, these new legislative district maps will take effect for legislative candidates who are elected in November 2024. 

    The new 2024 state Assembly and state Senate district maps may now be viewed on the Legislature’s interactive district map page

    In addition, the following related articles/links may be of interest:

  • March 27, 2024 11:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In February, the state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) announced that it added additional information to its online credential processing dashboard.  This updated website includes additional data points, including the median amount of time to receive an occupational credential in the health or business industries, or in the trades. 

  • March 27, 2024 11:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In early March, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) opened registration for their annual Opioids, Stimulants, and Trauma Summit.  According to DHS, this summit “highlights prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery strategies related to opioids, stimulants, and trauma.”  This event will be an in-person event (with a virtual option) held on May 7-9, 2024, at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. 

    For more information, please visit the DHS website

  • March 27, 2024 11:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From the Desk of the NHPCO – March 2024

    The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) responded to today’s announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that as of December 31, 2024, the hospice benefit component of the Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model will conclude. This model allowed participating Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) to include the Medicare hospice benefit in their Medicare Advantage benefits package.

    CMS cited feedback from providers, beneficiaries, and MAOs about their experience with VBID as the reason for discontinuing the hospice component of the model. CMS will no longer be accepting applications for the calendar year (CY) 2025 Request for Applications. This means hospice will no longer be a part of the VBID model beginning January 1, 2025. Hospice providers currently contracted with MAOs will continue with their contracts for CY 2024.

    This outcome is a direct response which follows over five years of advocacy and engagement by NHPCO, including meetings and official filings with CMS’ VBID team in February 2024August 2022August 2021, and Spring 2020.

    “This is a huge victory for patients’ access to quality care and for hospice providers who have continually identified challenges with this demonstration including concerns about VBID giving MAOs the ability to limit patient choices. NHPCO has advocated for years to end the VBID hospice carve-in and appreciate CMS making this important change,” said Ben Marcantonio, COO and Interim CEO of NHPCO. “We saw great success with concurrent care tested through the Medicare Care Choices Model (MCCM) and would encourage CMMI to consider these learnings as a potential path forward.”

    CMS will continue the VBID model in 2025 without the hospice component with the goal of delivering equitable, quality, person-centered care to Medicare beneficiaries. NHPCO will continue to work closely with Congress and CMS to reduce barriers for Americans seeking access to hospice and ensuring quality end-of-life care.

  • March 27, 2024 11:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

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

    ·        Congress Grills HHS on Hospice Program Integrity

    Hospice News – By Jim Parker| March 21, 2024

    Members of Congress are raising questions about the continued Medicare certification for new hospices in areas rife with fraud. U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra fielded questions in a House Ways & Means committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) and Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas) fired questions at the secretary about an apparent lack of progress on curbing certifications for bad actors. Read more...

    ·        HHS Secretary Becerra: We’re with You on Telehealth Flexibilities

    Hospice News – By Jim Parker| March 20, 2024

    Telehealth flexibilities must become permanent U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra indicated in a congressional hearing today. At the end of this year, telehealth flexibilities implemented during the pandemic are slated to expire. In a hearing before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Becerra said that HHS was willing to make them permanent. However, he said this would require closer collaboration with state governments. Read more...

    ·        State Palliative Care Councils May Be Proliferating

    Hospice News – By Holly Vossel| March 20, 2024

    Wisconsin is among the states that have recently taken steps to improve palliative care access and awareness. Wisconsin legislators recently introduced a bill that would establish a statewide Palliative Care Council. If passed, the bill would require the state’s Department of Health Services (DHS) to create a group of palliative clinical professionals, patients and family members to help address care delivery issues in the field. Read More…

    ·        Hospices Stepping Up Performance on Visits-in-Last-Days-of-Life Measure

    Hospice News – By Jim Parker| March 14, 2024

    Hospices, in aggregate, are showing improvement on the quality measure for visits in the last days of life. The number of registered nurse and social worker visits during a patient’s final week is one of the seven quality measures that CMS uses to evaluate providers. In Calendar Year 2021, the share of hospice care days with nurse visits in the last seven days of life rose to 63%, up from 62% year over year, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). Read more…

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

  • March 11, 2024 2:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WiHPCA Board Chair, Lynne Sexten, was featured on Wisconsin Public Radio.  She shared the importance of the Palliative Care Council with listeners.  Listen to the full interview online! 



  • February 21, 2024 9:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 20, the full Assembly passed the Palliative Care Council Bill (AB 736) on a voice vote. While that is great news, significant challenges remain in the Senate.

    On February 1, the Senate Committee on Government Operations held a hearing on Senate Bill 703, which would create a state Palliative Care Council to advise the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and provide recurring reports to the Legislature.  In particular, the proposed palliative care council would work with DHS on analyzing existing palliative care programs, as well as identifying ways in which health care providers could improve the quality of life for patients throughout our state. 

    In addition to the authors of this legislation, Senator Jesse James (R-Eau Claire Area) and Representative Patrick Snyder (R-Wausau), the following individuals testified in favor of the bill at the February 1 Senate hearing:

    • Danielle DiGennaro, Director of Supportive Care, Agrace (WiHPCA Representative)
    • Najmus Liang, MD, Medical Director – Wisconsin, VITAS Healthcare (WiHPCA Representative)
    • Sara Sahli, Government Relations Director-Wisconsin, American Cancer Society
    • Carrie Schepp, General Manager – Wisconsin, VITAS Healthcare (WiHPCA Representative)

    Several volunteers with the American Cancer Society’s Action Network also submitted written testimony in support of this legislation.

    The WiHPCA Government Affairs Team is working with the chair of the Senate Government Operations Committee to pass the bill out of committee, but he has reservations with the legislation. WiHPCA will continue to keep members updated on the bill’s status.

  • February 21, 2024 9:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 19, WiHPCA member St. Croix Hospice hosted Wisconsin Senator Jesse James (R-Altoona) for a legislative visit at their Chippewa Falls office. The visit was held as part of WiHPCA’s Capitol Connection program, which aims to build relationships between members and their local state lawmakers.

    During the meeting, St. Croix Hospice staff, led by Statewide Executive Director Rick Risler, had an opportunity to discuss with Sen. James the value of hospice and palliative care for Wisconsin patients and their families. It also provided a great opportunity to thank Sen. James for authoring WiHPCA’s Palliative Care Council Bill, which would help improve the quality of life for patients across Wisconsin facing life-limiting illness.

    In addition, the discussion navigated to other legislative and regulatory challenges faced by the hospice industry, including the Medicaid nursing home room-and-board pass through issue that places administrative and financial burdens on hospices across the state. Sen. James was highly engaged in the conversation and interested in helping the hospice industry in Wisconsin knock down regulatory obstacles.

    Sen. James currently represents the 23rd Senate District in northwest Wisconsin, which includes parts of Barron, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Marathon, and Wood counties. He is a lifelong resident of the Eau Claire Area and served in the U.S. Army for six years before attending Chippewa Valley Technical College, where he studied police science. Prior to being elected to the Wisconsin Legislature, Sen. James worked as a full-time police officer and was appointed as Police and Fire Chief of Altoona in 2013.

    If you are interested in hosting your lawmaker as part of WiHPCA’s Capitol Connection program, please contact the WiHPCA office at wihpca@badgerbay.co.

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Wisconsin Hospice and Palliative Care Association

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

Email: wihpca@badgerbay.co

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