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News & Press: Legislative

January Legislative Update

Tuesday, January 1, 2019   (0 Comments)
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 January Legislative Update 

Written by Hoven Consulting, WiAHC Lobbyist

 

Home Health Legislative Updates

 

WiAHC To Participate in EVV Stakeholders Meetings 


As you may know, the federal 21st Century Cures Act required states to implement electronic visit verification (EVV) technologies for home health services. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is currently in the process of structuring the framework for implementing the technology by 2020. 


On November 27, DHS hosted an EVV Forum in Steven’s Point. WiAHC’s lobbying team participated via web streaming. During the forum, DHS explained it is working with Sandata Technologies as the EVV vendor. However, DHS is also considering the use of an aggregator technology provided by Sandata, which would essentially allow home health agencies currently using an EVV vendor to maintain the use of that vendor and still comply the state’s requirements. DHS also announced that they are working with a group of stakeholders to help steer their decision-making in implementing an EVV system.  


In December, WiAHC leadership submitted a letter to DHS, which expressed the association’s concerns regarding the use of a single vendor in EVV implementation. The letter encouraged DHS to utilize the aggregator technology, which will ensure our members will not be forced to use a new vendor.


In addition, we requested DHS include WiAHC in the monthly stakeholder meetings. DHS has since invited WiAHC to participate in those meetings. Coleen Schmidt from Horizon Home Care & Hospice, Inc. will join the meetings along with WiAHC’s government affairs team. The association now has a strong voice in insisting the state responsibly implements an EVV system.


WiAHC’s leadership and government affairs team will provide updates as the state continues to work on its implementation plan. 

 

Other Legislative News

 

Getting Involved in the 2019-2020 Legislative Session

When Governor-elect Tony Evers and the new legislature convene the 2019-2020 legislative session on January 7, state government will begin its two-year cycle of introducing, debating, passing, and signing legislation. This past session over two thousand bills were introduced. The 2019-2020 session will be similar.


When considering bills, legislators typically attempt to gather as much information as possible in order to make an educated decision on supporting or opposing legislation. Legislators often research issues as well as speak to local stakeholders to understand how a piece of legislation may affect them. Input from local stakeholder constituents is essential to legislators’ decision-making. Likewise, establishing relationships with legislators is essential to ensuring constituent stakeholders have a part in the process.


The Wisconsin Association for Home Health Care has developed a program to encourage members to build relationships with their legislators called the Key Contact Program. The program allows WiAHC to build a database of members who have relationships with legislators. This is advantageous in identifying WiAHC members who can contact specific legislators to inform them on legislation and issues important to the association. The program also enables WiAHC to find members who are willing to testify before legislative committees when necessary.


Building a relationship with your legislators is mutually beneficial. You are making sure your voice is heard and your issues understood, which in turn helps their decision making. Establishing a relationship with a legislator may seem daunting, but it’s easier than you may think. Lawmakers are eager to meet constituents. They know who they work for and want to be available and accessible. It’s as simple as calling their legislative office and asking to meet with them in the district. You can meet at a coffee shop or invite them to your home health agency. If you’re not sure who your legislators are, this interactive map may help.


Take time to explain your business and have them meet your employees if possible. Explain to them the vital role home health agencies play in Wisconsin’s healthcare industry. Also be sure to let them know the challenges your agency faces and how they can be of service in solving those challenges. They will be eager to understand the issues and interested to help if they believe they can.


Once you have established that relationship, sign up for the Key Contact Program. Additionally, if you already have relationships with legislators, please sign up for the Key Contact Program. Signing up is simple. Just click this link and fill out the form. The information will automatically be uploaded to WiAHC’s Key Contact database.  


Now is the time to go out and establish a relationship with lawmakers. Be a part of the 2019-2020 legislative session by being a resource to Wisconsin’s elected officials. It ensures legislators make the right decisions for the home health care industry.


Legislature Passes Lame-Duck Extraordinary Session Bills 


Prior to the November 6 midterm elections, Wisconsin state legislative leaders announced their intentions to convene an extraordinary session after the election to consider an economic incentive package for papermaker Kimberly Clark. In the wake of Governor-elect Tony Evers’ victory over incumbent Governor Scott Walker, rumors began to swirl that the legislature may look to shore up some other issues in addition to an economic incentive package while there was still a Republican governor was still in office.


Those rumors eventually evolved into plans for the legislature to amend various rulemaking processes and legislative powers that would allow the legislature to gain some new powers and oversight over the incoming Democratic administration. In the words of some Republican legislators, the initiatives “evened the playing field” of power between the legislative branch and the executive branch.


The exact plans of the extraordinary session were made public when bill drafts were released on November 30. On December 3, the bills passed the Joint Committee on Finance, and by December 5 the bills passed both houses of the legislature. 


While the legislation accomplished a number of intricate rule and lawmaking process changes, they also made some changes to elections, voting, and powers of the Attorney General’s office. Following are some highlights summarized by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

 

  • Give Republicans more control of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., including over its enterprise zone program that gives tax breaks to individual businesses.

  • Put lawmakers in charge of litigation, allowing them to keep alive a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.

  • Give lawmakers — instead of the attorney general — control over how court settlements are spent.

  • Eliminate the solicitor general's office, which oversees high-profile litigation.

  • Modestly lower the state’s income tax rates next year to offset about $60 million in online sales taxes from out-of-state retailers that Wisconsin recently began collecting.

  • Bar judges from giving deference to state agencies’ interpretations of laws when they are challenged in court. That could make it easier to win lawsuits challenging how environmental regulations and other laws are being enforced.

  • Require the administration to report if the governor pardons anyone or his aides release anyone from prison early.

  • Force the Governor to get permission from the Legislature before asking the federal government to make any changes to programs that are run jointly by the state and federal governments. That would limit the governor's flexibility in how he runs public benefits programs. If the Legislature’s budget committee determined the administration was not implementing recent changes to those programs, it could reduce funding and staffing for state agencies.  

In mid-December, Governor Scott Walker signed the legislation without any partial vetoes. Some political spectators have speculated parts of the legislation may be challenged in court. WiAHC’s government affairs team continues to monitor the process and will provide any updates as they’re available.


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