Earlier this month, longtime Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette announced his retirement. La Follette, who was recently reelected to another four-year term in Nov. 2022, was first elected to the office in 1974 and has held the position for 44 years. Gov. Tony Evers has appointed Former Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski to replace La Follette and serve out the remainder of his term.
Earlier this month, WISCA had the opportunity to ask State Representative Clint Moses (R-Menomonie), Chair of the Assembly Health, Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, what his health care-related policy goals are for the 2023-24 legislative session. Here is what he had to say:
“My health priorities this session is to address the healthcare workforce shortage and to help make healthcare more affordable and accessible for Wisconsin citizens. Throughout Wisconsin, the health care workforce shortage has reduced accessibility to quality care. We have seen reduced service options and closures of clinics. In many cases, people are driving over an hour plus for a routine checkup. This creates a challenging situation for patients, especially for our aging population who face increasingly difficult decisions when it comes to their healthcare. I have been spending time learning about regulations surrounding Senior Care, IRIS, Nursing Homes, and Hospitals services across the state. I have also been on numerous tours in health care facilities and have met with many health care providers. I look forward to working with all the stakeholders to make Wisconsin a healthy state for all ages.”
Representative Clint Moses (R-Menomonie) represents the 29th Assembly District in northwestern Wisconsin, which includes portions of Dunn and St. Croix Counties. He was first elected to the Assembly in 2020 and was reelected in 2022. He currently serves at the Chair of the Assembly Health, Aging and Long-Term Care Committee. Rep. Moses, who resides in Menomonie with his wife and four daughters, is a chiropractor by trade. He operates Red Cedar Chiropractic with his wife, Dr. Nora Moses, and has been caring for residents of Dunn County for 20 years. He is a member of the Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, Community Foundation of Dunn County, lifetime alumni member of Northwestern Health Sciences University, and has served on the Colfax Health & Rehabilitation Board.
Author: Andrew Engel - WISCA Lobbyist (Hamilton Consulting)
With less than two weeks left until the April 4 election, the race for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has already broken national spending records. Former Justice Daniel Kelly, a judicial conservative, and Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, a judicial liberal, were the top two finishers in a four-way primary.
Currently, judicial conservatives enjoy a 4-3 majority on Wisconsin’s elected supreme court. Justice Patience Roggensack, a judicial conservative, is retiring at the end of her term on July 31, leaving an open seat which will decide the ideological balance of the court for several years. Because of this, the race is hotly contested, attracting a significant amount of attention.
According to one report, candidates and outside groups have spent $22.4 million on television advertising alone over the course of the race, with at least $13.2 million spent since the February 21 primary. The previous record for political spending in a state judicial race, $15.2 million, was set in a 2004 supreme court race in Illinois.
Also on April 4, Republican Rep. Dan Knodl will face Democratic candidate Jodi Habush Sinykin in a special election for the 8th Senate District. The seat is currently vacant after Sen. Alberta Darling retired in December in the middle of her eighth term.
For more information about the upcoming elections, see the following articles:
· Supreme Court Candidates Kelly, Protasiewicz Win Primary
· Rep. Knodl Wins Republican Primary in SD 8
· Judge Rules Bail, Welfare Reform Questions Can Appear on Spring Ballot
· Supreme Court Candidates Discuss Philosophy and Key Cases at WisPolitics Forum
This year the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center (WHAIC) marks its 20th year of collecting and reporting discharge, financial and other types of data from all Wisconsin hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). And for two decades, WHAIC has been making that information publicly available at no cost to taxpayers.
In 2003, hospital and ASC data collection transitioned from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to WHAIC, and in its two decades of operation, WHAIC has leveraged emerging technology and a lean and expert staff to continuously improve data collection and public reporting, all while being entirely self-sufficient.
“The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is proud to recognize and congratulate the WHA Information Center on its 20-year anniversary,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. “The WHA Information Center has been a tremendous, valued partner to collaborate with in ensuring that timely and reliable data from Wisconsin hospitals are available to DHS. We rely on this critical data for guiding and supporting important public health recommendations that protect the health and safety of Wisconsinites.”
During its operation, WHAIC has initiated and maintains notable price and quality transparency initiatives, including its state-of-the-art PricePoint (online and updated since 2005) and quality transparency site CheckPoint (operating and regularly updated since 2006). PricePoint alone receives some 15,000 views per month, and a Google-like, user-focused redesign was launched last month.
In 2020, WHAIC stepped up to provide much needed real-time information about the status and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wisconsin’s health care system. On April 9, 2020, during the earliest and most uncertain stages of the pandemic, WHAIC developed and launched a COVID-19 Dashboard, which has become a go-to source to help guide and inform local and state pandemic response. The WHAIC COVID-19 Dashboard has been in continuous operation for 1,076 days, is provided as a free public service and is entirely supported, staffed and funded by WHAIC. With 1.6 million views to date, the WHAIC COVID-19 Dashboard has been referenced thousands of times by journalists and health experts throughout the country and remains a daily trusted source of information for Wisconsin public officials, hospitals, health care providers, businesses and citizens.
“As the first leader of the WHAIC, I am thoroughly impressed with how it has evolved and thrived,” said Joe Kachelski, CEO of the Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network (WISHIN). “With two decades under its belt, the WHA Information Center has grown tremendously in its ability to adapt to the ever-changing health care world – from rapid advancements in digital technology to the transformative COVID-19 pandemic.”
In 2019, the WHAIC was entrusted by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to receive Medicare claims data with an official designation as a CMS Qualified Entity (QE). Receiving this designation required significant WHAIC-funded investments in technology and data security to manage the nearly 42 million Medicare claims records and meet the rigorous standards required by CMS. Among many important benefits of being a Medicare Qualified Entity, WHAIC is able to harness the information and work with health care providers, policymakers and others to improve care before, during and after a hospitalization.
WHAIC also developed and operates the Wisconsin Psychiatric Bed Locator, a web-based tool created to help streamline transitions of care from hospital emergency rooms to inpatient psychiatric beds. Born from work by the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, the Wisconsin Psychiatric Bed Locator was expanded across Wisconsin in 2016, and again expanded in 2021 to crisis stabilization beds and peer-run respite beds.
Lawmakers of both parties have recognized the value of WHAIC and, in 2016, expanded the utility of its data set through the Wisconsin Healthcare Data Modernization Act. The Act, led by then-Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and then-Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), was hailed by then-Assembly Health Committee Chairman Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) as tool that would be used to help providers “put water where the fire is” and more efficiently address community health needs. Just one result of the legislation was the creation of the WHAIC Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) Mapping Tool, an interactive resource that helps hospitals and their local partners better identify and then target resources to address community health challenges.
“The CHNA Mapping Tool is instrumental in understanding specific health challenges of our patients geographically,” said Megan Timm, Regional Director of Community Health for SSM Wisconsin. “We can find public data illustrating the health of an entire county, but rarely can we find a tool that provides us with ground level insight into the health needs of specific communities and neighborhoods. The CHNA Mapping Tool does this and provides a way to unite us as health care partners and see where each of us have strengths and where we need to support our communities further.”
Jennifer Mueller, WHAIC Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer, has led the WHAIC team since 2018 and praised their work for delivering timely, reliable and relevant health care data. “It has been a privilege for the past five years to lead WHAIC’s dedicated team, and to help evolve and fulfill WHAIC’s important public mission,” said Mueller.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for WHAIC with Jennifer at the helm,” WISHIN’s Kachelski added.
Also, this year Mueller was elected the 2023 President and Chair of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Board of Directors, a national recognition for her years of service and leadership in health information and the impact and contributions of WHAIC.
“I am honored to be named the AHIMA Board President and Chair, where I look forward to working with other health information professionals and organizations across the country to exchange ideas for ensuring data is accurate, complete, and readily accessible to patients, providers and the public,” Mueller said.
With more than 71,000 members, AHIMA is the nation's leading organization for health information professionals, connecting people and ideas and empowering its members to transform health through accurate, complete, and accessible data.
INFOGRAPHIC: WHA Information Center Celebrating Two Decades of Using Data to Improve the Health of Wisconsin Communities
In the closely watched Feb. 21 primary for the Wisconsin Supreme Court – which centered on the issue of abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022 – liberal-leaning Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz and conservative former Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly captured the most votes in the four-way race and will face-off in the April 4 general election. Protasiewicz took 46% of total votes cast, with Kelly coming in a distant second, capturing 24% of the votes. The winner of the general election will decide the ideological direction of the 7-seat high court, which is currently controlled 4-3 by conservative-leaning justices.
The other high-profile primary race saw Republican state Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) defeat fellow state Rep. Janel Brandtjen in the GOP primary for the 8th WI Senate District. Knodl will face Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin in the April 4 spring election for the chance to replace former Republican Sen. Alberta Darling, who left office in Dec. 2022 after holding the senate seat for three decades. If Knodl ultimately wins the seat, Republicans will hold a veto-proof majority in the senate.
Sign-up to host a legislative tour of your ASC
With the 2023-24 legislative now upon us – and legislators busy at work on critical health care policy – it is more important than ever for WISCA members to strengthen their relationships with their state lawmakers and educate them on the ASC model of care, the regulatory challenges we face, and the legislative solutions we need to increase access to affordable, quality care provided in the ASC setting. Remember, decisions state legislators make in the Capitol building can have a significant impact on the ASC industry, your organization, and your profession.
One of the best ways you – as a WISCA member— can engage your local legislators is to invite them to tour your ASCs to illustrate firsthand the many benefits of surgery center care. These visits provide a tremendous advocacy opportunity, which is why WISCA members across the state have already hosted numerous successful legislative tours. But we need to maintain the enthusiasm for this critical grassroots advocacy program, and WISCA is excited and ready to set-up additional tours today.
Wisconsin Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) recently visited the GI Associates surgery center in Stevens Point, WI as part of the WISCA Capitol Connection program to connect WISCA members with their local state legislators to show them firsthand the benefits of the Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) model of care.
“I greatly appreciated the opportunity to tour the new GI Associates surgery center in Stevens Point and witness the value of quality patient care delivered in ASCs, said Testin. “ I was able to meet with several local health care professionals, who took time out of their busy schedules to illustrate how the surgery center model of care can provide patients with cost-effective outpatient procedures in a safe and convenient environment.”
Testin, who was first elected to the Wisconsin Senate in 2016, represents the 24th Senate District, which stretches across numerous central Wisconsin counties, including Monroe, Wood, and Portage Counties, and includes the Cities of Wisconsin Rapid and Stevens Point. He currently serves as the Senate President Pro Tempore, is a member of the Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee, and serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Health Committee.
During his tour, Testin received a real time glimpse into ASC operations, learning that surgery centers are modern, highly regulated healthcare facilities focused on providing same-day surgical care, including diagnostic and preventive procedures. WISCA used Testin’s visit to drive home the fact that the ASC model of care has transformed the outpatient experience for patients, providing them with a more convenient alternative to hospital-based outpatient procedures at a lower cost and with a strong record of quality care and positive outcomes.
“We were thrilled to host Sen. Testin at our new Stevens Point surgery center and appreciated the opportunity to showcase the quality patient care we provide to the community,” said Shelly Hoffman, Nurse Manager at GI Associates and WISCA Board member. “We are committed to providing safe, personalized care in the most cost-effective way possible for our patients, and we were grateful for Sen. Testin’s interest in the role surgery centers play in the state’s health care system.”
GI Associates has been serving North and Central Wisconsin for over 30 years. Their highly skilled providers diagnose and treat all aspects of digestive disorders, including liver disease. Their surgery centers offer state-of-the-art medical procedures to improve patient quality of life.
Earlier this month, Gov. Tony Evers announced his appointment of Kirsten Johnson as the next secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Johnson, who begins her new role on Feb. 27, will replace former Secretary Karen Timberlake’s who left the state agency at the end of 2022.
According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, Johnson has over 20 years of experience as a public health leader in local, state, national, and international organizations. Most recently, she served as the health commissioner for the city of Milwaukee following her appointment in January 2021. Prior to serving the city of Milwaukee, Johnson led the Washington-Ozaukee Public Health Department for more than a decade as the director and health officer. Johnson also served as a health policy fellow and advisor for U.S. Congressman Ron Kind and helped develop policy for the House Committee on Ways and Means.
“Over the past 20 years of my career in public health, I have worked to address the challenges and health disparities facing Wisconsin’s rural, urban, and suburban communities alike—disparities that were laid bare by the pandemic,” said Johnson. “I am excited and honored to join Gov. Evers’ administration to lead DHS, where I look forward to using my expertise and knowledge to continue this important work.”
WISCA works closely with our national association partner – the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) – on advocacy and other issues important to our members. In fact, the WISCA Government Affairs Team joins a national ASCA state chapter call twice a month for a federal regulatory and legislative briefing and closely follows their published Government Affairs Updates. Here is the latest government affairs news from ASCA:
As mentioned above, Gov. Evers recently introduced his 2023-25 budget proposal – the state’s two-year spending plan – before a Joint Session of the Wisconsin Legislature. Although the Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to scrap most of the Evers budget and craft their own version by working off current spending levels, it is likely the Legislature will adopt some of the governor’s proposals.
According to Evers, his budget includes proposals that would increase access to affordable healthcare coverage, improve the quality of healthcare services in the state, and expand the scope of benefits available through Medicaid. Please find below a brief overview of items included in governor’s budget proposal that may be of interest to WISCA members:
The WISCA Government Affairs Team will continue to analyze the recently introduced budget bill and keep the membership updated throughout the budget process.
Association of Wisconsin Surgery Centers
563 Carter Court, Suite B Kimberly WI 54136
920-560-5627 I WISCA@badgerbay.co