News

  • May 31, 2017 12:52 PM | Anonymous

    Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, the influential co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, will provide an update on the state budget, discuss a proposal to self-insure the state employee health plan, preview what's next for the Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education agenda and highlight other healthcare legislation at a Wisconsin Health News Newsmaker Event.

    The event is Monday, June 5 at the Madison Club (5 E Wilson Street, Madison).  Lunch begins at 11:45; conversation starts at 12:15pm and adjourns by 1pm.

    Register now.

  • May 30, 2017 12:50 PM | Anonymous

    May 18, Wisconsin Health News

    The management side of a council charged with developing changes to the state's workers' compensation system has proposed creating a fee schedule for healthcare services.

    The Worker's Compensation Advisory Council, which consists of representatives from management and labor, crafts a bill that updates state law around workers' compensation every two years. Management and labor introduced their proposals at a meeting last week.

    Management is calling for setting initial rates at 150 percent of Medicare rates starting in 2017. The schedule would adjust each year with the medical consumer price index.

    The proposal differs from a measure that was pursued by the council four years ago but failed to make it into law, which was based on rates for surgeries and procedures negotiated by group health plans. 

    "The goal is the same, which is to bring cost containment to the state," said Chris Reader, an advisory council member and director of health and human resources policy at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

    He said it's easier to construct the fee schedule using Medicare as it's difficult for the state to obtain average group health plan rates. More than 40 other states have fee schedules, he said.

    Mark Grapentine, Wisconsin Medical Society senior vice president of government relations and liaison to the council, questioned why Wisconsin would want to mimic other states when it already has a successful system.

    "The value of the current workers' comp system as it exists is by just about every measure fantastic," he said. "For whatever reason, the management side tends to have this fascination with sticker prices of individual procedures and not the overall cost of care."

    Reader pointed to other proposals from management they believe could help with costs. That includes allowing employers to direct workers to healthcare providers and requiring providers to follow treatment guidelines.

    If a provider decides to deviate from the guidelines, they would have to get prior approval. That ensures providers get employees back to work as soon as possible, he said.

    "Let me be clear - most do an excellent job of getting workers back to work," he said. "But having strong treatment guidelines will ensure that everybody has to do that unless there's a good reason not to."

    Grapentine said they're concerned about both proposals. Treatment guidelines could make it inefficient and frustrating for physicians to provide care to injured workers, he said.

    The proposal relating to guidelines, he said, is coupled with the fee schedule approach. States with fee schedules aren't as efficient in providing care, and treatment guidelines can cut utilization. He compared it to pushing on both sides of a balloon at the same time.

    "If you push on both sides of the balloon really hard, you know what happens," he said. "Why on earth would you do that to a system that people across the board think is a national model?"

    Management and labor are set to negotiate over the coming months to craft an agreed-upon bill for introduction to the Legislature. 

    Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO and an advisory council member, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

  • May 10, 2017 11:29 AM | Anonymous

    May 3, Wisconsin Health News

    The Senate and Assembly passed a number of bills that are part of Gov. Scott Walker's special session targeting opioid addiction Tuesday.

    The proposals originated from a preliminary report issued in January by a task force co-chaired by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

    "With the nine special session bills advanced today, the Senate has taken several great strides towards helping to combat our state's ongoing opioid crisis," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said in a statement. 

    But Democrats questioned whether the bills go far enough. "After years of struggles, we're taking baby steps when we should be making major strides to improve outcomes and strengthen community safety," Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said in a statement. 

    The Senate approved proposals that would:

    • prohibit the dispensing of schedule V controlled substances containing codeine, dihydrocodeine, ethylmorphine and other substances listed under the section of law the bill targets.
    • allow school district personnel and college and university residence hall directors to administer naloxone. 
    • provide $2 million a year for alternatives to prosecution and incarceration for those with substance use disorders, $150,000 a year to expand those alternatives to more counties and $261,000 a year for an additional pilot program. 
    • provide $50,000 to help establish a recovery charter school.
    • provide $63,000 a year to expand graduate medical training on addiction. 
    • provide $1 million a year to create more opioid treatment programs in the state. 
    • provide $500,000 a year to establish an addiction medicine consultation program.
    • provide $420,000 a year to hire four additional drug trafficking investigators at the Department of Justice.
    • provide $200,000 a year to expand substance abuse screening by the Department of Public Instruction.

    The Assembly approved the bills last month, so they now head to Walker's desk for his approval.  

    The chamber also approved two additional bills Tuesday that are part of the package but haven't been taken up by the Senate. Those measures would: 

    • provide limited legal immunity to overdose victims. 
    • allow those with substance abuse disorders to be involuntarily committed. 
  • May 04, 2017 4:18 PM | Anonymous

    April 27, Wisconsin Health News

    Doctors and acupuncturists oppose a bill that would allow chiropractors to perform physical examinations for student athletes and practice "chiropractic acupuncture" and "chiropractic dry needling" if they receive additional training.

    The bill received a public hearing Wednesday before the Assembly Committee on Health.

    Under the proposal, schools that require a pupil to have a physical examination to participate in sports and other activities will have to accept a physical examination completed by a chiropractor the same way it accepts those completed by doctors. The chiropractor would have to hold a certificate in health or physical examinations.

    The same requirement would apply to the state's technical colleges or a two-year campus within the University of Wisconsin System that require physical examinations for students to participate in sports.

    "With some additional training, doctors of chiropractic could provide a high quality exam," Mark Cassellius, a chiropractor practicing in Onalaska, told lawmakers.

    Dr. Tosha Wetterneck, past president of the Wisconsin Medical Society, opposes the bill.

    The physical examination isn't just focused on the athletics, but on at-risk behaviors, immunizations and other factors that might impact sports participation, she said. That requires extensive training.

    "This is rocket science," she said. "This is difficult."

    The bill would also allow chiropractors to practice "chiropractic acupuncture" if they complete at least 200 hours of instruction and the acupuncture examination administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

    The bill would also allow chiropractors to practice "chiropractic dry needling," which involves puncturing the skin with needles to treat "neuromusculoskeletal pain and performance," if they complete 50 hours of postgraduate study.

    Shawano-based chiropractor Brian Grieves said the bill could help address the opioid epidemic by increasing access to alternatives pain treatments.

    "We have very limited, proven, effective non-drug options to offer people for pain," he said. "Being able to augment that by offering chiropractic acupuncture would greatly expand that access."

    Elissa Gonda, chair of the legislative committee for The Wisconsin Society of Certified Acupuncturists, opposes the bill.

    "Acupuncture is a serious and rigorous profession," she said. "It's not a method or technique that can be employed on an occasional basis by another healthcare practitioner." 

    Steve Conway, executive director of the Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, said they're generally supportive of the bill but they're still vetting it. 

  • May 04, 2017 4:08 PM | Anonymous

    April 27, Wisconsin Health News

    Wisconsin will receive $7.6 million from the federal government to combat opioid addiction, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday night.

    HHS is providing $485 million to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and six U.S. territories. The funding, made available under the 21st Century Cures Act, will go toward prevention, treatment and recovery services.

    States were awarded funding based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for treatment. Florida received the most money at $27.2 million, while five territories received $250,000 each.

    Gov. Scott Walker directed the Department of Health Services to seek the funding in an early January executive order. DHS can re-apply for additional funding next year. 

  • May 03, 2017 4:21 PM | Anonymous

    April 25, Wisconsin Health News

    The Senate Committee on Education approved two bills Monday that are part of a special session ordered by Gov. Scott Walker to tackle the opioid epidemic.

    A bill that would provide $50,000 to help establish a recovery charter school, which would serve 15 high school students in recovery from substance use disorder, passed out of committee 6-1. Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, voted against it. 

    An additional proposal providing $200,000 a year to expand the use of a substance abuse screening by the Department of Public Instruction passed 7-0. The Assembly has already approved both measures.

  • May 02, 2017 4:45 PM | Anonymous

    April 24, Wisconsin Health News

    The Medical Examining Board approved permanent rules last week that govern the practice of telemedicine and mandate continuing medical education requirements for doctors on opioid prescribing.

    The rules are expected to go into effect June 1, Department of Safety and Professional Services staff told board members.

    The final telemedicine rule clarifies that a physician-patient relationship can be established through telemedicine and provides guidelines on the use of telemedicine.

    The other rule requires doctors renewing their licenses to complete two hours of training on guidelines written by the board that relate to opioid prescribing. Doctors have to complete 30 hours of continuing medical education every two years.

  • May 01, 2017 4:06 PM | Anonymous

    April 18, Wisconsin Health News

    Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a bill ending state penalties for those who possess cannabidiol without psychoactive effect if they have written certification from a doctor.

    The bill also directs the state's Controlled Substances Board to reschedule CBD oil, which is derived from marijuana and sometimes used to treat seizures in children, within 30 days following a change at the federal level. The bill passed the Senate 31-1, and the Assembly 98-0.

    The bill builds on a 2014 law that aimed to make the drug available with a prescription in the state. But supporters said that providers weren't able to prescribe the drug, which is still illegal to obtain under federal regulations. 

  • April 20, 2017 2:52 PM | Anonymous

    While Republicans may have walked away from the American Health Care Act, the healthcare debate is certain to continue. Will the Trump Administration fight to keep the Affordable Care Act afloat? Or will it use its power to hasten the law’s demise? Will lawmakers move left or right to forge a new deal?

    In the meantime, Gov. Scott Walker is pushing ahead with Medicaid reforms that likely would not have been approved a year ago.  What does it mean for the program? 

    National and regional healthcare experts will tackle these questions and more at the 2017 Wisconsin Health News Conference, July 19 at the Monona Terrace in Madison.  Registration is now open (link).

  • April 18, 2017 2:41 PM | Anonymous

    Effective April 1, 2017, Wisconsin Act 266 requires all Wisconsin-licensed physicians and other prescribers to review a patient’s records from Wisconsin’s Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (ePDMP) before issuing a prescription order for a monitored prescription drug.

    To help members and their health care teams assess options for compliance with this new requirement, the Wisconsin Medical Society has prepared Wisconsin ePDMP: Frequently Asked Questions. Click here to download the PDF.

    Part of the Wisconsin legislature’s Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Agenda, the requirement pertains to each prescription order for a controlled substance unless one of the following exceptions applies:

    1.       The patient is receiving hospice care.

    2.       The prescription is for a three-day or less supply with no refills.

    3.       The drug is lawfully administered to the patient.

    4.       Due to an emergency, it is not possible to review the ePDMP before issuing the prescription.

    5.       The practitioner is unable to review the ePDMP data because either the ePDMP or the means to access it are not operational.

    Monitored prescription drugs include most Schedule II, III, IV or V controlled substances (as well as any other substance identified by the Controlled Substances Board as having a substantial potential for abuse).

    Prescribers subject to this requirement must register with the ePDMP to access the system. Click here to register if you have not done so already.

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