• January 27, 2022 3:16 PM | Deleted user

    Grassroots advocacy is the most powerful tool WiHPCA has at its disposal to shape public policy and building relationships with lawmakers is the most important aspect of advocacy. In effort to capitalize on our greatest advocacy resource – our membership – WiHPCA has unveiled our Coffee Conversations with Legislators advocacy program.

    The initiative is designed  to help connect members with their local legislators. Under the program, the WiHPCA Government Affairs Team will set-up in-district meetings between WiHPCA members and state lawmakers who represent them in the Legislature. These meetings, which can be located at your facility, or a local coffee shop provides a tremendous opportunity for WiHPCA members to build or strengthen their relationships with local legislators and to educate them on home health care and on policy issues important to home health care professionals and their patients.

    Obviously, the surge in COVID-19 cases currently makes it difficult for some in-person meetings, but as cases subside and depending on your comfort level with meeting face-to-face, WiHPCA would encourage you to participate in this critical grassroots advocacy program.

    Please click here for more information on the program.

  • January 27, 2022 3:09 PM | Deleted user

    Stay informed… Stay Involved…

    Register today for WiHPCA’s virtual Legislative and Advocacy Update event, which will be held on February 16, 2022, from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

    As you know, WiHPCA provides comprehensive, bipartisan government relations services, representing the legislative and regulatory interests of our members. More specifically, WiHPCA’s direct lobbying and grassroots advocacy efforts aim to successfully pursue policies and programs that provide members with the necessary tools to promote your profession, better serve your patients and their families, and advance the hospice and palliative care industry as a whole.

    By participating in the Legislative and Advocacy Update event, you will learn about the latest political and policy developments in the State Capitol, receive updates on key legislation of interest, and learn how you can be an effective advocate for WiHPCA and hospice and palliative care in Wisconsin.

  • January 27, 2022 3:09 PM | Deleted user

    The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is currently endorsing two important pieces of federal legislation to  help address workforce challenges facing the palliative care industry – and WiHPCA members. As such, NHPCO is encouraging our members – as well as your colleagues across the country – to contact your Members of Congress and urge them to support these two proposals:

    • The Provider Training in Palliative Care Act
      This bipartisan bill (S. 2890) will leverage programs of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which provides tuition assistance and loan repayment options to medical students in exchange for them providing primary care services in underserved communities, in order to expand the number of doctors and nurses knowledgeable in palliative care. The bill will allow individuals enrolled in NHSC’s Scholarship Program or Loan Repayment Program to defer their obligated service in order to receive training in palliative care for up to a year, thus building a cadre of healthcare providers with a both palliative care and community service experience.
    • The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act
      This bipartisan bill (H.R. 2255 and S. 1024) will help address a shortage of doctors and nurses in the United States, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will “recapture” unused work visas, enabling up to 25,000 nurses and up to 15,000 doctors to apply for visas. Congress annually authorizes thousands of visas for USCIS to admit foreign nationals to work in the United States and eventually pursue citizenship. Each year, unused visas are wasted, and since 1992 there have been more than 200,000 such wasted visas. Under this legislation, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) could repurpose a fraction of those unused visas for nurses and doctors.

    It only takes a few minutes to contact your Members of Congress on these two bills through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Hospice Action Network. The network is completely automated. You simply need to enter your name, address, and limited contact information and the Network takes care of the rest. CLICK HERE to be an advocate for strengthening the palliative care workforce.

  • January 27, 2022 3:08 PM | Deleted user
    • Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts ActOn December 10, President Biden signed the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act (S. 610) into law, addressing multiple policies expected to drastically cut  physician Medicare reimbursement in 2022. More specifically, the act does the following:
      • Provides a 3 percent increase to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) conversion factor in 2022, which provides relief from the scheduled expiration of a 3.75 percent increase passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. 
      • Extends the suspension of the automatic 2 percent cut to Medicare reimbursement, known as the sequester, until March 31, 2022.
      • Delays an additional 4 percent cut stemming from the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (PAYGO) until at least 2023.
    • Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s COVID Vaccine Mandate Rule for Large Businesses; Upholds Health Worker Requirement
      As has been widely reported, the U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down a split decision on two Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine requirement workplace rules: 1.) An OSHA rule requiring businesses with at least 100 employees to compel their workers to get vaccinated or wear masks and test negative at least once per week; and 2.) The CMS rule mandating most health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The High Court struck down the OSHA Rule on a 6-3 decision, but it upheld the CMS mandate on a 5-4 decision.
  • January 27, 2022 3:00 PM | Deleted user

    By Hoven Consulting  – WiHPCA’s lobbying firm

    • All Health Plans to Cover Cost of At-Home COVID-19 Tests
      On January 13, Governor Evers and Insurance Commissioner Nathan Houdek announced that all health insurance plans will be required to cover the cost of at-home rapid, diagnostic COVID-19 tests, starting on January 15, 2022.  This is required by the federal government.  These tests may be free or reimbursable to patients, depending upon arrangements health plans and insurance companies make with retailers/pharmacies.  Health plans and insurance companies will be required to cover up to eight such diagnostic tests per person, per month. 
    • State Improves Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
      In December, the state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) announced that the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $1,648,000 to the Wisconsin Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (ePDMP).  These dollars will be used to help connect the ePDMP with existing electronic medical records systems in Wisconsin. DSPS intends to focus these efforts on medical providers in rural and underserved regions in our state. 

    • Medicaid Program Surplus Projected
      On December 30, 2021, the Department of Health Services informed the legislature that it projects that the state will have a $184.9 million surplus in the Medicaid program by the end of the 2021-2023 state budget.  The state budget expires at the end of state fiscal year 2023, which ends on June 30, 2023.  This increase is largely due to the extension of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency and the additional 6.2 percent Medicaid match rate, which is provided by the federal government while the emergency declaration is in place. 
    • Politicians on the Move
      • On January 10, State Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) stepped down as Assembly Minority Leader.  He was first elected to the Assembly in 2006 and was elected as Assembly Minority Leader in 2017.  On January 10, State Representative Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) assumed the role of Assembly Minority Leader.  Rep. Kalan Haywood (D-Milwaukee) was elected to serve as the next Assistant Minority Leader and will take over from State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), who will run for the seat of State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), who is retiring this year.   
      • State Representative Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield) recently announced that she will not run for re-election in 2022.  She was first elected in 2014.  She is a member of the Assembly Democratic leadership team as the Minority Caucus Secretary and is also a member of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.  On January 10, new Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer appointed Rep. Meyers to a seat on the Joint Finance Committee for the rest of the 2021-2022 legislative session.   
      • State Representative Jim Steineke(R-Kaukauna), the current Assembly Majority Leader, recently announced he will not seek re-election in 2022. Steinke was first elected in 2010, and quickly rose through the ranks of the Assembly GOP leadership. He has served as Majority Leader since 2015.
      • State Senator Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) announced on January 7 that she will not run for re-election this year.  She was elected to the Senate in 2018 and previously served in the Assembly from 2011-2018.  She currently chairs the Senate Committee on Elections, Election Process Reform and Ethics and serves on the Joint Finance Committee.   
  • September 28, 2021 1:57 PM | Deleted user

    By Hoven Consulting – WiHPCA’s Government Affairs Firm

    The state’s Medicaid program will carry forward many of the temporary telehealth provisions it put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in a permanent policy that will take effect January 1, 2021.

    “What you see right now is in many cases the same rule that you’re going to see in the future, with I think some improvements actually,” Medicaid Director Jim Jones said at a Wisconsin Health News virtual panel in September.

    Jones said improvements include paying originating sites, like a pharmacy or medical office, to provide a place for Medicaid members to receive telehealth. They’re also looking at expanding tele-dentistry and doctor-to-doctor teleconsultation. 

    Other changes like covering asynchronous telehealth, where patients, for instance, send a photo to their provider, are still being developed. 

    A state law enacted in November 2019 requires that the Department of Health Services to treat telehealth the same as in-person care and mandates that Medicaid reimburse the same telehealth services that Medicare covers. The Department of Health Services initially anticipated taking six to nine months to roll out the law. 

    But when the pandemic struck in March 2020, DHS “ripped the Band-Aid off” and moved quickly to set up a temporary policy to ensure members could still get access to services, Jones said. They've spent the time since working on a permanent rule.

    Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, who wrote the law, said it helped plant “the seed of what telehealth could be,” particularly in how it could boost access to mental healthcare. 

    “This test period that we’re in has been really helpful and will inform rule-making,” she said. 

    She’s now working on legislation that would apply the Medicaid definition for telehealth to the state occupational licensing law.

    Jim Castellano, telehealth and virtual care manager at Marshfield Clinic Health System, said state and federal flexibilities boosted their ability to provide telehealth.

    “In some ways, I think this was a unique opportunity for everybody to just really get down and dirty with the technology and see what it’s capable of,” said Dr. John Schneider, chief medical officer at the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division. 

    He said telehealth has helped them reach more people, including easing the pivot from at-home visits to telecalls. He said there could be challenges with reimbursement in the future. 

    John Nygren, Wisconsin Association of Health Plans executive director, said their members have embraced the use of telehealth, calling it the “one of the best things” that has come out of the pandemic. 

  • September 28, 2021 1:57 PM | Deleted user

    The Long Term Care Advisory Council (LTCAC) is tasked with providing advice to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), as outlined in the council charter. DHS aims to have a diverse council, consisting of individuals from rural and urban areas, varied ethnicities, and different experiences with the various long term care programs in Wisconsin. Members of the LTCAC are appointed by DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. LTCAC members serve three-year terms that begin in January and run through the end of December.

    At the end of 2021, there will be one seat up for renewal and we are also looking to fill the current vacancies. Current membership and vacancies are listed on the LTCAC webpage. The Department is specifically looking for individuals that represent either consumer or advocate groups.

    Individuals interested in being considered for LTCAC membership should send a letter of interest describing a little bit about themselves, their background, and why they are interested in serving on the council. It is encouraged that applicants include information in their letter of interest describing how they will provide diversity to the council. Letters can be emailed to Suzanne Ziehr.

    To ensure consideration for membership beginning 2022, please submit a letter of interest by October 15, 2021.

  • September 27, 2021 1:56 PM | Deleted user

    Grassroots advocacy is the most powerful tool WiHPCA has at its disposal to shape public policy and building relationships with lawmakers is the most important aspect of advocacy. In effort to capitalize on our greatest advocacy resource – our membership – WiHPCA has unveiled our Coffee Conversations with Legislators advocacy program.

    The initiative is designed to help connect members with their local legislators. Under the program, the WiHPCA Government Affairs Team will set-up in-district meetings between WiHPCA members and state lawmakers who represent them in the Legislature. These meetings, which can be located at your facility, or a local coffee shop provides a tremendous opportunity for WiHPCA members to build or strengthen their relationships with local legislators and to educate them on issues important to hospice and palliative care professionals and their patients.

    Please click here for more information on the program.

  • September 27, 2021 1:56 PM | Deleted user

    Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) earlier this month announced $58.4 million in funding for local and tribal health departments to continue their work responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and build a strong recovery. The funding comes from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funding and Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund established by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and adds to the $106.5 million the Evers Administration has already allocated to local and tribal health departments for COVID-19 response activities in 2021.

    “We’ve worked hard this past year to put our state in the best position to recover from this pandemic, and this funding will help support our local partners in this effort to help build a robust and equitable state and ensure our continued economic recovery,” said Gov. Evers.

    The funding will provide resources to meet the public health needs that continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, or to address those needs that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the associated economic downturn. Potential uses for the funding include: measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 such as testing, contact tracing, and vaccination programs; staffing for public health and safety; enhancing public health programs through improvements like technology infrastructure or data analysis; addressing disparities in health outcomes, including services that connect residents with resources; and supporting healthy living environments and healthy childhood environments.

    “As vital partners in our COVID-19 response, local and tribal health departments have gone above and beyond, and this funding from ARPA will help them continue to respond to the pandemic while also improving systems and building capacity in their communities,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “Activities and resources like the ones funded by this investment are the building blocks of Wisconsin’s recovery, and we look forward to continuing to partner with our local and tribal health departments in this effort.”

    The $58.4 million in ARPA funding is applicable to expenses that local and tribal health departments incurred from March 3, 2021 through December 31, 2024, and has been allocated to departments based on a formula that includes a base amount of funding with additional funding based on population size.

  • September 27, 2021 1:56 PM | Deleted user

    Earlier this month, former DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk, who was a highly visible part of the Evers’ Administration’s COVID-19 response efforts, announced her retirement. Van Dijk, whose last day in her role at DHS was Sept. 10, was replaced by Deb Standridge as the new DHS Deputy Secretary.

    “Having spent 40 years dedicated to public good and the health and safety of folks in this state, Julie is the embodiment of public service. It has been a privilege to work alongside her on a near-daily basis over the past year and a half. I want to thank Julie for her career in public service and her family for their many years of support as well. Julie will be greatly missed, and I wish her all of the best in her retirement,” said Gov. Tony Evers.

    Standridge previously served as executive director of the state’s alternate care facility at State Fair Park. She has spent her career working in healthcare systems, most recently serving as Regional President of the North Region of Ascension Wisconsin. Her professional focus has been on the strategic direction and operational management of hospitals in a diversity of communities, including her work at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare’s North Market. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

    “I want to thank Governor Evers and Secretary-designee Timberlake for this opportunity to serve our state. I know we have both challenges and opportunities ahead of us, and I am ready to get to work serving the people of Wisconsin in this new role,” said Deb Standridge. “I would also like to add my gratitude to the outgoing deputy secretary. Having worked closely with Julie when I ran the Alternate Care Facility, I’ve seen her dedication in action.”

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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