By Hoven Consulting – WiHPCA’s lobbying firm
- WiHPCA Testifies at Assembly Health Committee on Death Reporting Legislation
On August 10, the state Assembly Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care held a hearing on Assembly Bill 189 (AB189). This bill 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 listed in state law. This bill would impact hospices, as a significant number of expected deaths occur within 24 hours of admission to hospice care.
If AB189 becomes law as introduced, it would not only dramatically increase the workload of hospice nurses and staff during a time when surviving family members may need their support, it would also increase the workload of county medical examiners and coroners to unnecessarily review expected deaths.
On behalf of WiHPCA, Jennifer Flugaur – who serves as the vice president of clinical excellence at Agrace – testified at the August 10 hearing to share these concerns on behalf of WiHPCA. In particular, she discussed WiHPCA’s request for an amendment to exempt hospice from this legislation since a substantial number of expected deaths occur within 24 hours of admission to hospice care.
- Governor Requests Special Legislative Session to Provide Funding for the Healthcare Workforce Shortage
On August 8, Governor Tony Evers announced that he was calling the Legislature into session on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, to provide funding for several of his major budget priorities that were not included in the FY2023-2025 state budget, including over $300 million for childcare programs, the creation of a paid family and medical leave program, and almost $60 million to help address the shortage of healthcare workers. The funding to address the healthcare worker shortage includes:
- $10 million for the nurse educators program, which incentivizes nursing professors to remain in Wisconsin.
- $6 million for the WisCaregiver Careers program, which is intended to increase the number of certified nursing assistants employed at nursing homes.
- $17 million for healthcare opportunity grants, which will go to local workforce development boards to assist individuals obtain employment in the healthcare field.
- $936,600 for the state Department of Workforce Development to work on healthcare apprenticeships.
- $22.5 million for healthcare innovation grants, which will help the healthcare industry recruit and retain employees.
- Over $1.2 million for graduate medical training support grants.
However, very soon after this announcement, Republican legislative leaders stated that they opposed this special session. As such, they will very likely call the Legislature into session on September 20 and then quickly adjourn the session, as they have done in the past when Governor Evers has called for a special session.
- State Rep. Deb Andraca Appointed to Legislature's Joint Finance Committee
On August 16, state Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) appointed Rep. Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay) to serve on the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance for the rest of the 2023-2024 legislative session. Rep. Andraca, who represents much of the north shore Milwaukee suburbs, will replace Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), who is departing the committee to focus on his campaign for the position of Milwaukee City Attorney.
- DHS Announces Free Online Program to Train 10,000 Caregivers
On August 8, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) announced an initiative to train 10,000 Wisconsinites as certified direct care professionals (CDCP). These individuals provide personal/supportive home care to senior citizens and disabled people.
Wisconsinites interested in receiving the CDCP certification may sign up to receive free training and then will need to pass an online test in order to be certified. Certified individuals who obtain employment with an eligible employer may earn up to $500 in combined hiring and retention bonuses.
More information may be found on the DHS website.
- DHS Creates Webpage Detailing Statewide BadgerCare Plus & Medicaid Enrollment Data
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government put in place a continuous coverage requirement for Medicaid enrollees. Now that the pandemic-related federal public health emergency has ended, those Wisconsinites who benefit from BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid and want to continue to participate in these programs will need to renew their enrollment. DHS has created a webpage that tracks this data, which will be updated on the third Thursday of each month.
- DHS Launches "UpliftWI" Peer Support Phone Line
On July 31, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) unveiled “UpliftWI,” which is a new peer support phone line for individuals who are experiencing mental health and substance use challenges. This phone line may be reached at 534-202-5438, seven days a week between the hours of noon and midnight. There is no charge to use this service and those who call for assistance will not be required to disclose their name, address or other identifying information. DHS intends to expand the phone line’s hours of operation to 24 hours a day by the end of 2024. More information may be found at the UpliftWI website.