WiHPCA Government Affairs Report

September 30, 2022 1:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Hoven Consulting  – WiHPCA’s lobbying firm

  • New Marquette Law School Poll Released on September 14

On September 14, Marquette Law School released a new statewide political poll. Please fond below an overview of the poll’s key findings:

  • Gubernatorial Race – The poll, which was conducted from September 6-11 asked Wisconsin voters their preference for governor:
  • Governor Tony Evers (Democrat):  47%
  • Tim Michels (Republicans):  44%
  • Joan Beglinger (Independent):  5%

NOTE:  Joan Beglinger ended her gubernatorial campaign on September 6, 2022 and endorsed Republican candidate Tim Michels.  However, her name will remain on the November general election ballot.

The September poll also asked respondents if they approved or disapproved of how Governor Evers is handling his job.  The poll found the following:

  • Approval: 44%
  • Disapproval: 47%
  • No opinion: 8%
  • U.S. Senate Race – The poll asked Wisconsin voters about their preferred candidate for this year’s U.S. Senate race.  The poll found the following:
    • Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (Democrat):  48%
    • U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (Republican):  49%

The poll also asked respondents if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson.  The poll found the following:

  • Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (Democrat):
    • Favorable:  33%
    • Unfavorable:  32%
    • Haven’t heard enough:  25%
    • Don’t know:  9%
  • U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (Republican):
    • Favorable:  39%
    • Unfavorable:  47%
    • Haven’t heard enough:  11%
    • Don’t know:  3%
  • Legislative Council Study Committee on Uniform Death Reporting Standards - Update

The Legislative Council Study Committee on Uniform Death Reporting Standards held its second meeting on Wednesday, August 17 at the Capitol building in Madison.  Senator Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) and Representative Jesse James (R-Altoona) serve as Senate and Assembly co-chairs, respectively, and heard from various presenters, which are summarized below.   

The committee heard from the Dane County chief medical examiner, who discussed staffing concerns, particularly the shortage of coroners and medical examiners in Wisconsin.  She also mentioned the challenge of having high caseloads.  

Then, representatives from the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association and the Funeral Service & Cremation Alliance of Wisconsin made a joint presentation to the committee.  Both presenters discussed their involvement in completing death records.  In particular, they described that they receive information about the cause of death from physicians or – in certain cases – medical examiners or coroners.  They noted several problems:  (1) experiencing delays in receiving cause of death information from physicians, even though they are required to provide this information within five days and (2) difficulty in reading the information provided by physicians, as this is often sent via fax.

Representatives from the National Center for Fatality Review & Prevention showed committee members their case reporting system, a web-based standardized case report tool that is available to all states.  It allows local and state government users to enter data and create standardized reports with respect to fetal, infant and child death data.  Some committee members expressed concern that people outside of local and state government who are working on these issues are not able to access this website (or “dashboard”).  National Center staff responded that this dashboard is new, as it was rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Co-Chair Ballweg asked if they could provide dashboard access to local/non-profit partners who work on these issues. 

The presenter from the Colorado Department of Public Health discussed her agency’s work on developing a child suicide death reporting form.  In particular, she discussed how they offered “mini-grants” to coroner/medical examiner offices in the state to assist them with the processing of these forms. 

Michael Staley, of the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, discussed how collecting suicide data is easier in Utah since they have a very centralized system.  Specifically, any death in Utah under the purview of a medical examiner gets reported to a central office in Salt Lake City.  In Utah, his agency also has the authority to request nearly any kind of state and local record related to death.  In addition, he discussed the interview his agency performs with the next of kin in the case of suicide deaths – he referred to such an interview as a “psychological autopsy.”  Generally, they try to perform such interviews about two weeks after a death but definitely no longer than 12 months after a death. 

After the presenters were finished, committee members discussed several issues.  The discussion focused on fatality-related data – standardization of data, the confidentiality of data and format of data submitted to government agencies.  In particular, it was mentioned that in the case of other states, counties share fatality data when states have laws in place that explicitly allow for that.  There have been unsuccessful attempts to move such legislation in Wisconsin in previous years.  The data format discussion focused on how smaller entities – including hospices, funeral homes, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies – still fill out forms by hand and fax forms, instead of sending such data to county public health departments in an electronic format.  It was noted that this is a big problem. 

A list of committee members, the full meeting agenda, as well as written presentations may be viewed on the legislature’s website. 

This study committee’s next meeting was initially scheduled to occur on October 4.  However, Co-Chair Ballweg mentioned during the meeting that she is going to try to reschedule that meeting date.  Once it is scheduled, the next meeting date will be posted on the committee’s page on the legislature’s website.  Once again, the full meeting will likely be streamed live on www.wiseye.org

  • Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee Approves Modified Spending Plan for Opioid Settlement Funds

On Thursday, September 8, 2022, the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) on Thursday voted 16-0 to modify a plan to spend $31 million in funds from an opioid lawsuit settlement.  DHS initially submitted a spending proposal to JFC in July 2022, but an anonymous JFC member objected, resulting in the September 8 committee meeting and vote. 

The committee’s changes to the DHS plan include:

  • Providing $3 million for law enforcement agencies, with $1 million reserved for those in counties or municipalities with 70,000 or fewer people.
  • Adding $1 million more to the plan for medication-assisted treatment, bring the total to $2 million.
  • Providing $1 million to expand the state's “hub and spoke” pilot model for Medicaid recipients with substance use disorders and other medical conditions that pose barriers to their recovery. 
  • Providing $750,000 for prevention efforts by the Boys & Girls Club of Wisconsin.
  • Reducing the plan’s $11 million for capital projects to $10 million, requiring DHS to support a capital project expanding beds for inpatient treatment of pregnant and postpartum women like the expansion of Meta House in Milwaukee, and mandating the state agency to distribute at least 30 percent of the remaining funds for projects in counties with fewer than 500,000 residents. 
  • Cutting $2 million from the plan to pilot family support centers that would have helped family members and friends of people who are actively using drugs, have experienced an overdose or died from an overdose. 
  • Reducing the plan’s amount for school-based substance use prevention curriculums and programs from $2 million to $250,000.
  • Cutting $1 million from the plan for local public health departments and community organizations to address the root causes behind substance use.
  • Requiring DHS to report to the committee by the end of the year and on a quarterly basis on their progress in awarding funds and how much recipients have spent.

Wisconsin Hospice and Palliative Care Association

563 Carter Ct, Suite B

Kimberly, WI 54136

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

Email: wihpca@badgerbay.co

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