• January 29, 2024 10:27 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 are not able to agree on legislation creating new district boundaries, the court noted that it will decide on the new boundaries.  As a practical matter, the state Elections Commission has stated that new district boundaries will need to be finalized by March 15, 2024. 

    After the December 22 decision, Legislative Republicans asked the State Supreme Court to reconsider its decision. The State Supreme Court rejected that request.  Subsequently, the State Supreme Court requested that parties to the lawsuit submit new suggested district maps.  Seven such maps were submitted to the court on January 13.  At this point, two consultants hired by the court will review all these proposed new maps and submit their recommendations to the court by February 1.  At that point, the court will select the new state legislative maps, unless the Governor signs a bill creating new maps. 

    In an unexpected twist, the GOP-controlled Senate and Assembly passed legislation the week of Jan. 22 to create new maps, giving little notice to legislative Democrats of Evers. Republican leadership said the new maps were very close to maps previously proposed by Evers with some small changes to ensure political fairness. Democrats blasted the maps and Evers indicated he would veto the legislation.

    Assuming the State Supreme Court ultimately selects the new maps, it is possible that this case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

  • January 29, 2024 10:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On January 8, state Assembly Republicans unveiled their draft bill permitting registered patients to access medical cannabis. 

    Under the legislation, all prescribers who have a bona-fide relationship with a patient would be able to certify if a patient has a qualifying condition (prescribers are not mandated to make certifications if they choose not to for whatever reason). Qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV or AIDS, seizures and epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, severe chronic pain (narrowly defined in the legislation), severe chronic nausea, severe muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, chronic motor or vocal tic disorder, Tourette syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and any terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of less than one year.

    After receiving a certification, the patient would register with the newly created Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation (OMCR) within the Department of Health Services (DHS). The OMCR would issue patients and caregivers (up to 3 chosen by each patient) “registry identification cards”. These cards would allow the patient or caregiver to go to one of the five state government-operated medical cannabis dispensaries where a licensed pharmacist will consult on dosage and dispense medical cannabis to a patient or caregiver.  The bill allows medical cannabis concentrates, oils, tinctures, edibles, pills, topical forms, gels, creams, vapors, patches, liquids, or forms administered by a nebulizer. The bill does not allow smokeable cannabis. All forms of cannabis would need to be dispensed in child/tamper proof containers. 

    As of the writing of this newsletter, this bill has not yet been introduced.  However, it is likely that the full Assembly – and possibly the full Senate – will vote on this bill before the end of the 2023-2024 legislative session.

  • January 29, 2024 10:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Delivering his sixth State of the State Address on Jan. 23, Gov. Tony Evers focused on what his team is messaging as the Administration’s achievements, saying that Wisconsin “has never been in a better fiscal position than we are today better than last year, better than when I took office, and better than any year in Wisconsin’s 176 years of statehood.”

    He also touched on the political battle occurring in the state as it relates to reproductive rights, as well as the state’s ongoing workforce shortage crisis. In fact, during his speech, Evers announced he will issue an executive order to establish the Governor’s Task Force on Healthcare Workforce. 

    According to the governor’s office, the task force will be charged with studying the workforce challenges facing the state’s healthcare system, including recruitment and retention, identifying ways to improve patient care and alleviate the burdens on the healthcare workforce. The task force will also explore educational and training pathways to grow a sustainable healthcare workforce, and to create an action plan with solutions related to workforce development, industry innovation, education, and training.

    Task force members will include representatives from institutions of higher education, medical providers, individuals from various levels of government, and patient advocacy organizations. 

  • January 29, 2024 10:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In mid-January, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) announced their recommendation that young children living in Wisconsin should have their blood tested for lead.  Specifically, DHS recommends that all children between the ages 1 and 2 should receive this test.  Also, DHS recommends that any child between the ages of 3 and 5 who has not been tested, should be tested.  Further, any child under the age of 6 who lives in the City of Milwaukee may need to be tested, according to the City of Milwaukee Health Department guidelines.  For further information, please go to the DHS website

  • January 29, 2024 10:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In December 2023, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) announced that it would extend its free telehealth service to ensure rapid access to COVID-19 antiviral drugs through April 10, 2024.  With this service in place, any Wisconsinite 18 years of age or older who tests positive for COVID-19 is able to receive a telehealth consultation with a health care professional seven days a week during the hours of 8:00AM – 8:00PM.  If the patient is eligible for treatment, the patient will receive a prescription for a COVID-19 antiviral drug that may be filled at a pharmacy.  If the patient does not have access to a pharmacy, the prescription drug will be shipped overnight to the patient.  For more information, go to the DHS website

  • January 19, 2024 1:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hospice PEPPER Distribution to Be Delayed Through Fall 2024

    In November, the CBRPEPPER website went down. In response, NHPCO reached out to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting an update and a timeframe for an expected fix. The website recently posted update indicating that there will be a temporary pause in distributing comparative billing reports (CBRs) and Program for Evaluating Payment Patterns Electronic Reports (PEPPERs) in effect through the fall of 2024. The website also indicates that CMS is working to improve the quality and accessibility of these reports and will be releasing a Request for Information (RFI) soon. NHPCO is reaching out to CMS for additional details and will share more information as the situation develops.

  • December 19, 2023 3:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WiHPCA, working in conjunction with state Representative Patrick Snyder (R-Wausau Area) and state Senator Jesse James (R-Eau Claire Area), introduced legislation in the Assembly (Assembly Bill 736) and Senate (Senate Bill 703), respectively, which would create a state Palliative Care Council to advise the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and provide recurring reports to the Legislature.  Assembly Bill 736 has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care and Senate Bill 703 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations.

    The primary intent of this legislation is to improve awareness of and access to palliative care.  That is because there are not enough health care providers who specialize in palliative care in Wisconsin.  Furthermore, there is a shortage of information on palliative care for practicing health care providers, patients, and their loved ones.   

    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.  The council would be comprised of 22 members representing diverse perspectives, including physicians, nurses, a spiritual care professional, palliative care patients or family members of such patients, a health insurance company representative with expertise in palliative care, and members of the Legislature.  The council would meet at least twice per year in various locations across the state.

    Many other states have already taken the step of creating a palliative care advisory council or advisory group to increase awareness of access to this specialized type of care.  In fact, 25 other states from coast to coast have formed such entities. 

    WiHPCA’s government affairs team is aggressively lobbying members of the Assembly Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care and the Senate Committee on Government Operations to schedule hearings on this legislation.  In addition, they have lobbied Assembly and Senate leadership offices to move forward on these bills. 

  • December 19, 2023 3:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As part of WiHPCA’s ongoing effort to boost our legislative advocacy efforts at both the state and federal levels, a group of WiHPCA members recently met with Wisconsin Congressman Glen Grothman (R – WI-6). The meeting provided a great opportunity to have a deep conversation with a key federal policymaker on the tremendous benefits and value of hospice and palliative care – for patients, families, and Wisconsin taxpayers.

    WiHPCA members who attended the meeting included Aime Goldman from Agrace Hospice and Rick Rissler and his team from St. Croix Hospice: Daniel Gonzalez, Jennifer Dillman, and Kathleen Metty-Reinhard. They were wonderful ambassadors for Wisconsin’s hospice community and did an excellent job educating Congressman Grothman on a handful of important federal issues, including the VBID hospice carve-in and its impact on hospice providers and patients, and the hospice nursing home pass through and how it creates a financial and administrative burden for hospice providers. In fact, the Congressman said he would be willing to write a letter urging CMS to consider a waiver for Wisconsin on the pass-through issue.

    Glenn Grothman is the Congressman for Wisconsin’s Sixth Congressional District. Grothman is currently serving his fifth term in Congress, having first been elected in 2014. 

  • December 19, 2023 3:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On November 30, Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison) announced her candidacy for the position of Dane County Executive.  As such, she immediately stepped down as Senate Democratic Leader. Very soon thereafter, Senate Democrats elected Senator Dianne Hesselbein – who represents a Senate district in the western Madison suburbs – to be the new Senate Democratic Leader.  Senator Hesselbein assumed that position immediately after being elected.

  • December 19, 2023 3:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Once Senator Hesselbein was elected as Senate Democratic Leader, she resigned from most of her committee positions – including her role as the top Democrat on the Senate Health Committee.  Soon thereafter, she announced committee changes for Senate Democrats.  Of interest to WiHPCA, Senator LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee is the new top Democrat on the Senate Health Committee and Senator Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee is a new member of the Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families.  It’s notable that Senator LaTonya Johnson is also the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families. 

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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