By Hoven Consulting – WiHPCA’s lobbying firm
· Assembly and Senate Health Committees Approve 24 Hour Death Reporting Bill with WiHPCA Hospice Exemption Amendment
Over the last few weeks, both the Assembly and Senate Health Committees voted to recommend approval of legislation (Assembly Bill 189 and Senate Bill 178) that would require all individuals or organizations that are currently required to report certain deaths to medical examiners or coroners to also notify these officials of all persons who have died within 24 hours of admittance or presentment to a hospital or other facility (including a hospice) – even deaths not currently included under existing reportable circumstances under existing state law.
WiHPCA members already report deaths under certain circumstances – typically following a significant fall – to the appropriate county coroners or medical examiners as is required by existing state law. However, WiHPCA is concerned that a requirement to notify the coroner or medical examiner regarding all deaths that occur within 24 hours of admittance or presentment would significantly increase the number of death notifications that would need to be submitted.
As such, WiHPCA’s Madison lobbyists advocated the Assembly and Senate Health Committees to amend both bills to exempt hospice. On October 10, the Assembly Health Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of an amendment exempting hospice from the requirements of Assembly Bill 189, as well as the amended bill itself. On October 13, the Senate Health Committee also voted unanimously to recommend approval of an amendment to exempt hospice from Senate Bill 178, as well as the amended bill itself.
The next step is for the full Assembly and Senate to vote on this legislation. WiHPCA’s Madison lobbyists will continue to advocate for the approval of this legislation.
· DSPS Upgrades Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
On October 15, the state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) unveiled an updated Wisconsin Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (ePDMP) website. In its recent announcement, DSPS noted that the updated website incorporated feedback from stakeholders, including prescribers, health care systems, law enforcement and pharmacies. Specifically, DSPS highlighted the following improvements:
o Dispensing records will be processed as soon as they are submitted, and patient reports will be updated accordingly as close to real time as possible.
o Instances of patient records being falsely merged or separated will be significantly reduced. Falsely matched records will be addressed in a timely manner should they occur.
o Healthcare professional account users will be able to reconfigure their own patient report layout to prioritize information most useful to their clinical practices and treatment decisions.
· Legislative Committee Rejects Request for More DSPS Occupational Credential Staff
On September 26, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee – the budget writing committee – rejected Governor Evers’ request to provide more funding for additional staff members at the state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to assist in processing occupational credential applications. The vote was along party lines – 10 against and 4 in support. In its request, DSPS noted that they needed more staff members to maintain or reduce processing time for occupational credentials.
During the Fiscal Year 2023-2025 budget process, the Legislature approved over 17 new positions for DSPS, as well as approximately $3.5 million for credentialing software.
· Senate Health Committee Recommends Approval of DHS Secretary Nominee
On September 27, the Senate Health Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Kirsten Johnson to be the Secretary of the state Department of Health Services (DHS). Prior to her nomination, Kirsten served as the head of the City of Milwaukee Health Department, as well as the Washington-Ozaukee Health Department. She also served as the president of the Wisconsin Public Health Association. On October 6, the Senate Health Committee voted 5-1 to recommend her confirmation to the full Senate. Senator Andre Jacque (R-DePere) voted no. The next and final step is for the full Senate to vote on her confirmation. This full Senate vote could occur by mid-November.