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  • July 16, 2018 9:16 AM | Anonymous

    July 12, Wisconsin Health News

    Workers’ compensation premiums for businesses are set to decline by 6.03 percent this October, according to a statement from the Department of Workforce Development.

    That could result in an estimated $134 million in annual savings for businesses, the Tuesday statement noted. It’s the third year that workers’ compensation rates have declined, following an 8.46 percent decrease last year and a 3.19 percent decline in 2016.

    “A safe workplace results in a more productive and profitable one for employers,” Ted Nickel, insurance commissioner, said in a statement. "Employers are recognizing the relation between their employees' safety and the savings that ensue as premiums continue to decline."

    Mark Grapentine, senior vice president of government relations for the Wisconsin Medical Society, said the report shows that “good news keeps coming” for the state’s workers’ compensation program.

    “We’re already a national model, with faster return to work, fantastic patient satisfaction and ready access to the highest-quality healthcare in the nation – all at a cost per claim that is below the national average,” he wrote in an email. “Another significant insurance rate reduction is just more evidence that Wisconsin’s system is win-win for both businesses and their employees.”

    Grapentine added that there’s room for improvement, pointing to a need for the state’s on-the-job injury rate drop below the national average. He added that healthcare providers are “always striving to find better ways to improve care.”

    Chris Reader, director of health and human resources policy, also lauded the announcement. He said the reduction follows a national trend as employers and workers have invested in and focused on safety. But he noted that costs for medical treatment for workplace injuries are on the rise.

    “Had Wisconsin enacted a medical fee schedule like almost every other state, medical costs also would have been kept in check and the insurance reduction today would have been even greater," he wrote in an email.

    Reader also argued that the rate reduction doesn’t mean much to fully-insured employers who don’t pay insurance costs and are left footing “incredibly high medical bills.”

    Proposals to establish a fee schedule haven't gained traction with lawmakers.


  • May 29, 2018 8:55 AM | Anonymous

    Physicians who were previously ineligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program may now qualify under a temporary opportunity announced yesterday by Federal Student Aid. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 has made possible limited funding on a first-come, first-serve basis for loan forgiveness of some or all payments of Federal Direct loans.

    To find out if you are eligible, to learn more about the program or to apply, visit StudentAid.gov. Borrowers with questions also may contact FedLoan Servicing at 855.265.4038 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.


  • April 19, 2018 8:44 PM | Anonymous

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, a case involving a constitutional challenge to Wisconsin’s $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases (Cap). The case could have far-reaching effects on Wisconsin’s well-balanced, relatively stable medical liability environment.

    On July 5, 2017 the Wisconsin Court of Appeals struck down the Cap, concluding that it violates the equal protection rights of plaintiffs in medical liability cases. The Wisconsin Supreme Court subsequently agreed to review the lower appellate court’s decision. On Jan. 18, 2018 the Society, along with the AMA Litigation Center, filed an amicus brief in support of the Cap, explaining its value to patients and the health care community alike. For more background on the Mayo case, see this article from the Oct. 9, 2014 Medigram.

    Today’s arguments provided the Court’s seven members with the opportunity to ask questions, follow up on points raised in briefs, including the Society’s amicus brief, and give an indication of their thinking.

    “It’s clear from the questions raised today that the Court understands the lengths the legislature went to create a well-balanced, comprehensive medical liability system that provides unique protections for Wisconsin patients and why the cap is essential to that system,” said Society General Counsel John Rather, JD. “We are encouraged with what we heard today and are hopeful the Court will restore the cap.”

    The Court spent a considerable portion of the arguments exploring the relationship of the Cap to controlling health care liability and overall health care costs, attracting and retaining physicians and protecting the viability of the Fund.

    A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by mid-summer. For more information, contact John Rather, JD. For an in-depth examination of the Mayo case and its implications for Wisconsin health care, listen to Episode 3 of WisMed OnCall, “The Mayo Case and Its Potential Impact,” available here.

  • March 26, 2018 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    March 23, Wisconsin Medical Society Insurance and Financial Services

    The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (Fund) Board this week approved a 10 percent decrease in Fund fees for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This is the sixth decrease approved by the Fund Board in as many years.

    Wisconsin’s excellent medical liability environment is good for your organization’s business: money not spent to obtain coverage and settle claims can be allocated to improve quality and the overall patient experience.

    Your Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) continues to work vigilantly to preserve Wisconsin’s relatively stable medical liability environment, most recently by filing amicus briefs at both the appellate and Supreme Court level in Mayo v. the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund—a case that has challenged the constitutionality of the state’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases. We are also maintaining our active involvement in the primary insurance market, working with our exclusive partner, ProAssurance. Additionally, the WMS Holdings Risk Purchasing Group and Captive are designed to help health systems decrease liability costs and improve quality and efficiency.

    The Society was influential in obtaining this rate reduction through its participation on the Fund Board. This is a great example of how the Society’s advocacy efforts—which the profits generated by Wisconsin Medical Society Insurance & Financial Services help support—benefit the medical community in Wisconsin.

  • December 14, 2017 5:23 PM | Anonymous

    Doctor Day 2018 is fast approaching and it’s important that physicians like YOU participate in our annual advocacy event in Madison on Tuesday, Jan. 30. 

    It’s a full day of speakers, issue briefings and a visit to the Capitol to advocate on behalf of your profession. The day will conclude with a reception at DLUX.  The tentative schedule and online registration can be found at widoctorday.org. The event is free to all physicians and medical students thanks to very generous support from sponsorship organizations. 

    Each year, Doctor Day attendees hear from some of the leading voices in Wisconsin politics and health care policy. We’re awaiting final confirmation from speakers, but physicians attending Doctor Day 2018 will enjoy the same high-level experience. Also, our speakers will update physicians on health care issues still under debate in the State Capitol. The January 30 meeting date coincides nicely with the final days of the state legislature’s activity, and therefore puts physicians in policymakers’ offices at the best time to maximize impact on the issues physicians care about. 

    Physicians also will hear the latest regarding Wisconsin's cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases—currently being heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. One of the state’s top medical liability attorneys, Guy J. DuBeau, will explain how a lone case—tried in Milwaukee County—left Wisconsin with no limit on noneconomic damages and what physician organizations are doing to fix that problem. 

    Staff and committee members will take care of every detail—from breakfast, briefings, speakers, lunch and scheduling your visits with legislators to the reception at the end of the day! 

    Please consider joining us for a great day of advocacy on behalf of your profession and your patients!  Register now on the Doctor Day website.

  • December 12, 2017 5:17 PM | Anonymous

    December 6, Wisconsin Health News

    The Department of Health Services has accepted the resignation of Medicaid Director Michael Heifetz, who is leaving for the private sector, according to a statement.

    Heifetz, who also serves as administrator of the Division of Medicaid Services, will leave the department Dec. 13. Deputy Administrator Casey Himebauch will serve as the division's interim leader.

    “Michael has been invaluable in his role as Medicaid director, representing Wisconsin’s vision for the future in the national spotlight,” DHS Secretary Linda Seemeyer said in a statement. “We will greatly miss his leadership and insight, as well as his candor and energy.”

    A DHS spokeswoman said that Heifetz is "pursuing career opportunities" in the private sector. She did not respond to a question asking for more specifics.

    Heifetz joined the department as Medicaid director in September of last year. He previously served as state budget director. Before that, he was vice president of governmental affairs at Dean Clinic and SSM Health of Wisconsin.

    Heifetz has also left his position on the Group Insurance Board and was replaced by State Budget Director Waylon Hurlburt in October.

  • November 27, 2017 2:45 PM | Anonymous

    The legislature is considering legislation based on proposals from the Workers Compensation Advisory Council.  The proposals were developed Labor and Management representatives on the Council.  But not all of the proposals share the support of the Council’s health care representatives, including a recommended fee schedule.  Health care organizations will need to be even more active this session than last to again defeat the fee schedule proposal.

    It is important to note that works compensation premiums have dropped – without a government mandated fee schedule.  This year alone, employers received an 8.46 percent reduction in their worker’s compensation insurance premiums, saving employers an estimated $170 million.  At the same time, Wisconsin’s health care system continues to lead the nation in outcomes with injured employees returning to work a full three weeks earlier than the national average.  And health care costs per worker’s comp claim lower than the national average.

    Your calls are needed to both the State Assembly and State Senate to explain why the proposed health care fee schedule could harm Wisconsin’s model worker’s compensation system. Entering your address under "Who Are My Legislators" on the State Legislature’s website to locate their contact information.

    Let your State Representative and State Senator know you are a physician in their district, serving patients who are also constituents and that you are opposed to an artificial fee schedule for a worker’s compensation system that provides the nation’s best care at a below-average worker’s compensation cost.  Thank you for your time and action on this important issue.

  • November 20, 2017 1:52 PM | Anonymous

    November 3, WMS Medigram

    The Wisconsin Medical Society Board of Directors has named Clyde “Bud” Chumbley, MD, MBA, chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Medical Society.

    “I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve as the next CEO of the Wisconsin Medical Society; I consider it a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Chumbley, who will begin on November 27. “Having been a Society member for 37 years, I’m a firm believer in its mission to advance the health of the people of Wisconsin by ensuring access to high-quality, cost-efficient care. And I look forward to drawing on my experience to further strengthen the Society so we can continue to make a difference for our patients and our profession.”

    In addition to caring for patients as a board-certified obstetrician/ gynecologist throughout his 36-year medical career, Dr. Chumbley has held numerous leadership and management positions, including serving nearly 20 years as president and CEO of a large, independent multi-specialty medical group practice. He currently serves as chief medical adviser for Wisconsin Medical Society Holdings and as chief medical officer for the Wisconsin Medical Society Holdings Association Health Plan.

    Past leadership roles in Wisconsin include serving as chief medical officer/chief clinical integration officer for Aspirus Health and president of Aspirus Clinics, and as president and CEO of ProHealth Care Medical Associates. He also has served on the board of directors and as past chair and treasurer for the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality. In Texas, he served as chief medical officer for Scott & White Healthcare in the Austin region.  

    Doctor Chumbley is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Medicine and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and holds medical licenses in Wisconsin and Texas.

    “We were fortunate to have a number of highly qualified candidates interested in this position,” said Jerry Halverson, MD, chair of the Society’s Board of Directors and co-chair of the search committee. “Doctor Chumbley is an excellent advocate for physicians and the patients we serve, and with his extensive administrative experience and medical expertise, we believe he is an outstanding choice to lead the Society. We look forward to all we can accomplish under his leadership.”

    Doctor Chumbley is the eighth Society CEO in its 176-year history. Susan L. Turney, MD, MS, FACMPE, FACP, was the first physician to hold the position from 2004 to 2011.

  • November 20, 2017 1:50 PM | Anonymous

    Deputy Insurance Commissioner J.P. Wieske will outline what a Wisconsin version of the Affordable Care Act could look like at the Dec. 13 Wisconsin Health News Newsmaker Event.

    Wieske announced this fall the state is considering applying for a 1332 waiver from the law, which allows states to develop unique solutions for providing affordable healthcare coverage. Wieske will discuss the state’s next steps, as well as provide an update on open enrollment and the current insurance market.

    Wieske has served as the state's deputy insurance commissioner since 2016. Before that he was the department's legislative liaison and public information officer for five years. He previously served as the executive director of the Council of Affordable Health Insurance.

     Register here.

  • November 08, 2017 1:28 PM | Anonymous

    November 8, Wisconsin Health News 

    Healthcare providers and the state’s business lobby sparred over a proposal that would establish a fee schedule for the workers’ compensation program at a Wisconsin Health News event Tuesday. 

    Under the proposal, the Department of Workforce Development would build a fee schedule to approximate the average negotiated price of group health in the state. It would also provide an additional 2.5 percent to 10 percent increase to cover administrative costs. 

    “Wisconsin’s costs have gone up pretty dramatically in the last 20 years,” said Chris Reader, director of health and human resources at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. “We’re now, if not the most expensive, we’re close to it in most areas.” 

    Reader said that employers are seeing that they’re paying more for the same procedure compared to group health plans and other states. More than 40 other states have developed their own medical fee schedules. 

    The Legislature didn’t enact a fee schedule four years ago. But this time is different because costs have gone up, according to Reader. 

    Mark Grapentine, senior vice president of government relations for the Wisconsin Medical Society, called the proposal a “solution in search of a problem.” He said that Wisconsin provides wide access to high quality care, which helps workers get better quicker. 

    Grapentine said there’s a lot of attention paid to individual codes for procedures as opposed to the cost per claim. Wisconsin’s cost for all workers’ compensation claims on the healthcare side is around the national average, he said. 

    “When you look at the whole picture overall, the story is pretty good,” he said. “The rest of the country looks at Wisconsin workers’ comp. program as a national model.” 

    But Charles Burhan, assistant vice president and senior public affairs officer for Liberty Mutual, said most employers cannot negotiate on workers’ compensation. 

    “It’s a national model for high prices,” he said of Wisconsin’s current system. “Is there a need for a fee schedule? Yes." 

    Joanne Alig, senior vice president of policy and research at the Wisconsin Hospital Association, said that group health has lower prices because of negotiations, such as prompt payment. 

    She said that workers' compensation premiums in Wisconsin have declined the last two years too. “To say that costs are not coming down, we just disagree with that,” she said. 

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