By Hoven Consulting – WiAHC’s lobbying firm
Governor Signs Several Health Care Bills of Interest to WiAHC
In April, Governor Evers signed a number of bills that passed both chambers of the legislature earlier this year. The following is a list of these bills of interest to WiAHC:
Rep. Donna Rozar (R-Marshfield) introduced Assembly Bill 729 and Sen. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) introduced the Senate companion bill (Senate Bill 700) at the request of WiAHC. This legislation brings Wisconsin’s home health regulations in line with federal regulations by eliminating home health care professional advisory bodies but maintaining governing bodies. Assembly Bill 729 passed the Assembly in late February. The Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 700 in January. Unfortunately, however, it did not pass the full Senate before the end of the 2021-2022 legislative session. In the meantime, the WiAHC Legislative Committee is exploring alternative options to make this change through the regulatory process at the state Department of Health Services (DHS) and has requested an initial meeting with the appropriate DHS staff. We will provide updates regarding these efforts in future WiAHC monthly newsletters.
DHS Payment Increase Delays – Update
As of mid-April, WiAHC members have reported that they have not received either the skilled nursing services payment increase included in the 2021-2023 state budget or the additional five percent Medicaid reimbursement rate for home and community-based services, which was funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). As such, WiAHC followed up with the state Department of Health Services (DHS) to request a specific timeline for the issuance of these increased payments. DHS informed WiAHC that any claims that home health agencies submit to DHS after April 29, 2022, will be paid out at the higher amounts. If a home health agency submitted such a claim before the end of April 2022, DHS will make appropriate adjustments internally to increase such payments – DHS anticipates that they will send out such payments during the week of May 9, 2022.
In addition, please let WiAHC know if there are any specific home health care providers that are at risk of closure due to these delayed payments. If so, WiAHC will make DHS aware of this and they will attempt to expedite processing.
Proposed Legislative Council Study Committees
After the legislative session concludes in even-numbered years, the Legislative Council - the legislature's in-house, non-partisan group of attorney advisors - organizes study committees that perform in-depth reviews of various state policy matters facing Wisconsin. Committees are comprised of both legislators and citizen members.
Study committees hold hearings, during which they hear public testimony – including from subject-matter experts – on state policies that may need to be fixed or updated. Once a committee has completed receiving public testimony, it generally drafts legislation for possible introduction and consideration by the legislature. In mid-April, the list of study committees was finalized. The following proposed study committees may be of interest to WiAHC:
o Sen. Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) will be the Chair and Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers) will be the Vice Chair.
o Sen. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) will be the Chair and Rep. Jesse James (R-Altoona) will be the Vice Chair.
The state Department of Health Services (DHS) is thinking ahead to addressing electronic visit verification (EVV) with respect to home health services. At this time, DHS's goal is to have a "soft launch" of home health EVV in January 2023. As such, DHS has organized a group of external stakeholders to provide input. Their intent is that this group of stakeholders would ultimately turn into their EVV Advisory Workgroup for Home Health. At the request of DHS, several WiAHC representatives have attended a few initial meetings of this group. We will provide updates about the work of this group in future WiAHC monthly newsletters.
The state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) will temporarily stop accepting initial applications for 72 types of occupational credentials starting at 12:00PM on Friday, April 29, and ending at 11:59PM on Sunday, May 15. The list of such credentials may be viewed on the DSPS website and mostly includes professionals in the health care field, including physicians, physician assistants, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses.
This temporary blackout period will be put in place to allow DSPS to implement its new online occupational credentialing portal, which will replace its current paper application process. This new portal will be unveiled on Monday, May 16.
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