News

  • April 06, 2017 10:46 AM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin's population is aging and healthcare care costs for the elderly and those needing long-term care are growing along with it. Gov. Walker's budget increases Medicaid reimbursement for nursing homes and provides more money for direct care workers. Is it enough to address workforce shortages? And what's next for Family Care? After puling back its plans to overhaul the program, the administration is pushing forward with a statewide expansion. Will they incorporate other proposed program changes? 

    Learn more at a Wisconsin Health News Panel Event May 2 in Madison. Panelists include:

    • Lynn Breedlove, Co-Chair, Wisconsin Long Term Care Coalition
    • Curtis Cunningham, Assistant Administrator of Long-Term Care Benefits and Programs, Department of Health Services
    • Tim Garrity, Chief Innovation Officer, Community Link
    • John Vander Meer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Health Care Association

    Register Online

  • March 30, 2017 12:15 PM | Anonymous

    March 20, Wisconsin Health  News

    Professional groups oppose a move by Gov. Scott Walker to eliminate state boards that regulate optometrists, radiographers and podiatrists as well as consolidate advisory councils and boards that oversee healthcare professions.

    Walker's 2017-19 budget would end the Radiography Examining Board, the Podiatry Affiliated Credentialing Board and the Optometry Examining Board and transfer their functions, rules and pending matters to the Medical Examining Board.

    The budget would also create a Medical Assistants Council, consolidating advisory councils on physician assistants and others. And it establishes a Medical Therapy Examining Board, ending boards overseeing physical therapists and others.

    "Currently, taxpayer dollars are going to provide administrative services to each of the boards that are proposed to be consolidated," Alicia Bork, Department of Safety and Professional Services spokeswoman, wrote in an email. "Merging these functions...will allow efficiencies that cannot be found when separate silos exist."

    The combined actions, along with other changes at DSPS, would cut state spending by $50,800 in program revenue over the next two fiscal years, according to the Legislature Fiscal Bureau. There were 1,172 optometrists, 424 podiatrists and 6,994 radiographers with active licenses in Wisconsin as of July 2016. 

    Peter Theo, executive vice president of the Wisconsin Optometric Association, said his members have "serious concerns" about the proposal as turning regulatory control over to another profession may hurt their ability to diagnose and treat eye diseases.

    "Optometrists are primary eye care providers whose regulatory independence is critical to maintaining the high standard of care needed to ensure the safe and competent practice of optometry," he said. 

    The Wisconsin Podiatric Medical Association raised concerns about not having representation on the Medical Examining Board. 

    "The Medical Examining Board cannot be expected to keep up with the advances in all of the professions that they are looking to be charged with," Dr. Bob Sage, the association's president, said in a statement. "It is unrealistic."

    Sandy Helinski, legislative committee chairperson for the Wisconsin Society of Radiologic Technologists, said the elimination of the Radiography Examining Board, established in 2010, would be an "indisputable step backward in the health of Wisconsin's patients." 

    "Anything that could possibly dilute the effectiveness of what we've been able to accomplish in these last seven years is of great concern to us," she said.

    Connie Kittleson, president of the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association, opposes eliminating of the Physical Therapy Examining Board and the creation of a Medical Therapy Examining Board.

    She noted other states have tried consolidation in the past and have returned to independent boards.

    "The data out there shows it doesn't make things more efficient, it doesn't save money," she said. "But more importantly, it wouldn't be worth the risk to public safety to have people who do not have expertise or training in a particular field regulating professionals of another field."

    Reid Bowers, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants' advocacy committee chair, raised concerns about the proposed Medical Assistants Council, saying it "would severely limit the ability of PAs to shape how they are regulated by the Medical Examining Board." 

    At a Medical Examining Board meeting last week, Chair Dr. Kenneth Simons said the budget would put them "in charge of things we have no expertise" in. Others raised similar concerns. 

    Tom Ryan, the board's executive director, said that the boards put under the authority of the Medical Examining Board meet three to four times a year. Doctors on the board could do "curbside consults," he said.

    "I don't think it's as formidable a challenge as you would think," he said.

    Mark Grapentine, senior vice president of government relations for the Wisconsin Medical Society, said the Medical Examining Board has to investigate complaints against physicians and regulate the profession.

    "If adding these non-medical professions to their duties takes away from that responsibility or makes fulfilling that duty less efficient, it's difficult to divine the upsides to the proposal," he said in a statement.  

  • March 17, 2017 5:32 PM | Anonymous

    March 10, Wisconsin Health News

    The Senate Committee on Revenue, Financial Institutions and Rural Issues approved a bill Thursday that would increase funding for rural broadband and add healthcare criteria the Public Service Commission should consider when awarding money.

  • March 17, 2017 5:30 PM | Anonymous

    March 10, Wisconsin Health News 

    Two Assembly committees approved five bills that target the state's opioid addiction Thursday. The bills are part of the special session ordered by Gov. Scott Walker to fight the epidemic.  

    Most of the bills made it out of committee on bipartisan, unanimous votes. But a proposal providing $420,000 over the next two fiscal years to hire four investigators at the Department of Justice targeting drug trafficking passed 9-3. 

    Reps. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum; Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee; and Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee, voted against passage. 

    "This means of course we're going to send up more people into prison," Kessler told members of the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. "Because now we're going to investigate more, find more and prosecute more. You have to take that into consideration." 

    Other special session bills that made it out of committee, including the Assembly Committee on Education:

    • bill allowing school district personnel to administer naloxone, an anti-overdose drug. Lawmakers also backed an amendment from Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse, extending the bill to residence hall directors at colleges and universities.
    • bill that would continue providing $2 million annually s to fund more treatment and diversion programs in the state and provide $150,000 annually to expand the program and $261,000 annually for a pilot program for expanded efforts. Lawmakers voted down an amendment 8-4 on party-lines from Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, that would have added more funding to the bill.
    • bill that would allow the University of Wisconsin System to establish a charter recovery high school for up to 15 students with substance abuse disorders. Lawmakers backed two amendments.
    • bill that would provide funding to expand a substance abuse disorder screening tool used in public schools. Lawmakers amended the bill to provide $400,000 over the next two years, bringing the amount in line with the governor's budget.
  • March 17, 2017 5:26 PM | Anonymous
    Buoyed by the promise of better care and lower costs, health organizations are increasingly flocking to care coordination models. But they are not always easy to organize in today’s disjointed healthcare system and current payment structures often don’t reward the effort. Also, coordination among different programs is lacking.


    A panel of experts will share their experiences from the field. Find out what’s working, what’s not and what they see as the future of care coordination. Panelists: 

    • Joy Tapper, Executive Director, Milwaukee Health Care Partnership 
    • Tom Lutzow, CEO, Independent Care Health Plan
    • Jane Pirsig-Anderson, Director, Aurora Health Care Family Service

    The event is Tuesday, April 4 from 11:30am – 1pm at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee (900 West Wisconsin Avenue). Register now.

  • February 28, 2017 4:49 PM | Anonymous

    February 24, Wisconsin Health News

    The Wisconsin Department of Justice has reached an agreement with Adapt Pharma to offer an anti-overdose nasal spray at a discounted rate when bought in bulk by police, first responders and state or local government agencies.

    Narcan Nasal Spray can reverse some of the effects of an opioid or heroin overdose. Under the agreement, approved entities that purchase the nasal spray in quantities of greater than 48 units can receive a 40 percent discount. 

    That reduces the price from $125 to $75 for two 4mg doses. The rate is set until Feb. 15, 2018. 

    Schimel earlier in February renewed an agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals that established a rebate program for each of its naloxone syringe purchased by public entities in Wisconsin through Feb. 1, 2018.


  • February 28, 2017 4:47 PM | Anonymous

    February 20, Wisconsin Health News

    More than 12,000 doctors and other prescribers have registered for the state's Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, Department of Safety and Professional Services staff told the Medical Examining Board last week.

    That's about a third of the total number of expected eventual participants, said Andrea Magermans, PDMP analyst. More than 5,000 delegate users, which act on behalf of prescribers, have signed up too, she told board members last Wednesday.

    The registration process is different than under the older program, which has posed a challenge, she said.

    "There have been some customer service type of issues," she said. "We've been addressing them as they've come up."

    Magermans noted that getting used to the new format has posed a challenge for users as well. But once they're used to it, "it seems to be going well," she said. They've received positive feedback about the changes.

    Effective April 1, those prescribing controlled substances will have to review a patient's records before writing a prescription. Prescribers will also have to update the PDMP by end of the next business day after dispensing a controlled substance in most cases.

    Magermans said they hope to create a new category in the PDMP for medical directors by April 1, which will allow those overseeing prescribers to review their prescribing methods. By the start of April, DSPS also plans to add a component to the program so prescribers can review their own prescribing history. 

    DSPS is also in talks with health systems, including Aurora Health Care, Gundersen Health System, Marshfield Clinic Health System, ProHealthcare and UW Health, about pilot projects allowing health systems to integrate their electronic health records with the ePDMP, she said.  

    At least one pilot organization will be working on it prior to April 1, but Magermans didn't know how far they would be in the process.  

    Gov. Scott Walker's 2017-'19 state budget, released earlier this month, recommends $1 million to fund five positions "for the continued improvement" of the PDMP. Dr. Tim Westlake, vice chair of the Medical Examining Board, said the new positions should help with the rollout.

    But he said that a concern they should have is whether the board has the resources to prosecute the cases, in case there's a spike.

    "We want to make sure we have enough investigative resources to be able to prosecute the cases," he said. "If we get an extra 20, 30 or 50 opioid prescribing cases that can bog the whole system down."
  • February 27, 2017 2:52 PM | Anonymous
    Join Wisconsin Health News for a Newsmaker Event with Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer, who will outline Gov. Scott Walker's 2017-19 budget and discuss department priorities.
    The event is being held March 21st from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Madison Club, 5 E. Wilson St, Madison WI 53703.  Register now.
  • February 20, 2017 4:50 PM | Anonymous

    February 15, Wisconsin Health News

    Group Insurance Board members sent a letter last week to lawmakers, revealing more information on the process they used when deciding to self-fund and regionalize the health plan for state employees.

    Their plan, approved last week, would shift the state away from a fully insured model, which involves 18 companies, to a model with six vendors. They estimate the move could save more than $60 million in the 2017-'19 state budget from reduced administrative and insurer risk fees as well as improved discounts. Department of Employee Trust Funds spokesman Mark Lamkins did not provide a further breakdown of the savings.

    Any self-insurance contract is subject to approval by the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee.

    The board selected Compcare Health Services Insurance Corp. to offer a statewide option as well as a regional option. The other companies serving regions would be Dean Health Plan, HealthPartners Administrators, Network Health Administrative Services, Security Administrative Services and Quartz, which is affiliated with Unity Health Insurance and Gundersen Health Plan. 

    In a letter sent Friday to JFC co-chairs, GIB Chair Mike Farrell and board member Stacey Rolston, who is a deputy administrator in the Division of Personnel Management at the Department of Administration, wrote that those participating in the state employee health plan will have greater access to providers than are currently available to most members under a proposed move to self-insurance because CompCare has a broader network.

    They also wrote that providers that are part of Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, which did not respond to an RFP on administering the program, will be included via other third party administrators. In addition, Physicians Plus, which responded to the RFP but wasn't selected as a vendor, is exploring a partnership with Unity and Gundersen, according to the letter.

    According to GIB, nine companies responded to the RFP. That also included Mayo Clinic Health Solutions, the self-insurance business unit of Health Traditions Health Plan, which wasn't chosen. WEA Trust also participated in the process and did not receive an offer. 

    GIB noted that many of the plans with minimal participant enrollment in the program chose not to respond, including Arise, Group Health Cooperative - Eau Claire, MercyCare Health Plans and Medical Associates.

    But Patrick Cranley, MercyCare chief operating officer, said GIB's characterization was "a little bit disingenuous."

    "We could not respond to the RFP because the RFP required that respondents be able to serve an entire region defined by the RFP," Cranley said. He called it "a conscious decision to limit the number" of plans participating in the state program.

    Cranley called the board's decision an "unfortunate choice" for the wider market as it eliminates a number of high quality community health plans from participation in the health plan.

    "I think it does long-term damage to the competitive insurance market in the state of Wisconsin," he said. "You're essentially perhaps even crippling some of the plans that are smaller plans that provide important competition in the markets in which they participate."

    Cranley said MercyCare serves 1,400 members in Jefferson, Rock and Walworth Counties through the state plan. That's out of 48,000 total members for his plan.

    "I would prefer to continue to serve these folks and let them have access to our health plan," he added. 

    ETF often pursues an "aggressive education campaign" to ensure participants understand their choices under the program, according to the letter. The communication strategy for 2018 "will be unprecedented," Farrell and Rolston wrote.

    The board plans to finish contract negotiations by the end of March.

    Read the letter.

  • January 25, 2017 10:43 AM | Anonymous

    The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) launched the new Wisconsin Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (ePDMP) on January 17, replacing the former program.

    2015 Act 266 requires physicians and other prescribers to review patient information from the ePDMP before issuing a prescription for any controlled substance beginning April 1, 2017. (More information, including exceptions to the requirement to consult the PDMP, in this nonpartisan Legislative Council memo.)

    Be ready with the following information in order to register for the ePDMP, and note that prior login credentials no longer work.

    • Last name.
    • Last four digits of your social security number.
    • License number.
    • License type (profession).
    • Specialty or primary area of practice.
    • DEA number.

     The ePDMP supports current browsers and two previous versions, except it only supports the current and previous version of Internet Explorer. If you experience issues, DSPS suggests that you update your browser.

    Once the registration process is complete, users can begin looking up patients and managing delegates. The multistate search function will be available to both prescribers and their delegates as soon as their accounts are established. Training materials, including brief tutorial videos and information about creating and maintaining delegates are available at pdmp.wi.gov.

    If you have questions or experience problems with the registration process, contact pdmp@wisconsin.gov.

Wisconsin Society of Plastic Surgeons
563 Carter Court, Suite B, Kimberly, WI 54136
Phone: 920-750-7721 | Email: WSPS@badgerbay.co

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