June 3, 2016
Volume 60, Issue 22


IPFCF Assessments Reduced by 30% for 2016-17

On June 1, the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (Fund) sent out the first billing statement for the 2016-2017 fiscal year (July1, 2016 through July 30, 2017). Those statements reflect an overall decrease of 30 percent in Fund assessment rates from the previous fiscal year that was approved by the Fund Board in December. This is the fourth reduction in Fund fees over the past four years.

"WHA staff and members are active on the Fund Board and committees," said Matthew Stanford, WHA general counsel.

Ralph Topinka, chief legal officer, ProHealth Care, represents hospitals on the Fund Board; Brian Potter, WHA senior vice president, finance/chief operating officer sits on the Fund’s Actuarial Committee, and Stanford sits on the Fund’s Legal Committee.

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State, Federal Candidates File Nomination Papers
WHA staff prepares for campaign season advocacy work

Candidates running for federal or state partisan legislative seats in 2016 were required to file nomination papers by June 1 to have their name added to the ballot. While over one-third of incumbent state legislators face no challenger opponents in 2016, the other two-thirds of the Legislature faces either a general election (November 8) opponent, a primary opponent (August 9) or both.

In preparation for an expectedly tumultuous campaign season, the Wisconsin Hospitals PAC & Conduit is hosting an event with Marquette University Law School Professor and nationally-recognized pollster Charles Franklin. Professor Franklin, who operates the "gold standard" public poll in Wisconsin, will preview his latest Wisconsin voter polling data and provide contributors with insight on the upcoming election. If you would like to participate in this event, contact Jenny Boese, WHA vice president, federal affairs and advocacy, at jboese@wha.org.

In addition, WHA’s government relations team is gearing up for another aggressive cycle of campaign season advocacy work in preparation for the 2017-18 state and federal legislative sessions. Over the next four months, WHA staff will be crisscrossing the state to meet with candidates and discuss issues that are important to Wisconsin’s hospitals and health systems.

To see a list of the candidates that have filed for elected office, including those individuals looking to represent you at the state or federal levels, go to the Government Accountability Board’s website. For questions about engaging with your local candidates for elected office, contact either Jenny Boese at jboese@wha.org or Kyle O’Brien, WHA senior vice president, at kobrien@wha.org.

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New Legislator Profile: Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay)
Self-Insuring State Employees Could Carry "Unintended Consequences"

Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay) is not one to make quick judgments on issues that are circulating in the state Legislature. That holds true on the subject of whether the state should self-insure their employee health insurance.

"I think the jury is still out as to what the right direction is (on the state’s self-insurance proposal), so it is critically important for WHA and its members to continue to provide education to legislators on the impact of any dramatic and drastic changes in our system," Steffen said.

Steffen added that there may be "unintended consequences that are not well understood by elected officials," and it is a matter that requires additional information and education for policymakers.

"There is a lot of time and space between now and when a new Legislature convenes next year," Steffen added. "I am hopeful to take that time to understand this issue and see if there will be a proposal to consider."

Steffen said he plans to wait until there is an actual proposal that has started "its way through the process before I get too deep in it."

Steffen said he is a passionate about a number of issues, but two he mentioned were growing the economy in Wisconsin and Medicaid reimbursement.

"One issue that is important to hospitals is the Medicaid reimbursement situation that is facing all hospitals in the country, but in particular, in Wisconsin," he said. "In Wisconsin the reimbursement rate is 65 percent of actual costs. The national average is around 80 percent, so we are at a strategic disadvantage compared to other states when it comes to sustaining a high-caliber hospital industry if we continue to not properly support our hospitals….this continues to be a top priority for our state, and at the very least, it should be."

Steffen said the current arrangement for Medicaid reimbursement is not sustainable. He noted that too often, government waits until something breaks down before they address it, but he is hopeful Wisconsin will not take that path on this important issue.

"The bottom line is hospitals should not be reimbursed at these levels. We need to find a way to address this dramatic shortfall that is then shifted on to others in the system," Steffen said. "Likely it will not involve just one lever being pulled, it will take many approaches and ideas being implemented. I look forward to working with WHA and my colleagues, as well as other parties that have an interest in this issue to find a pathway to sustainability on the Medicaid reimbursement situation."

As a business owner, Steffen is aware that access to high-quality, high-value health care is an economic development asset, and integral to the state’s ability to compete for new industry.

"I have four hospitals in or near my district. They are not only critical to our employers now and in the future, they are critical as employers themselves," according to Steffen. "Hospitals are an integral part of our community and our economy. We need to ensure that we are giving them the opportunities they need for success and growth, just as we do any other industry in our state."

Steffen said his wife is in the real estate business and when people are working with her, she told him they want to be aware of good schools, good hospitals and safe communities.

"The health care system fits into all the infrastructure," he said. "Certainly, there is a need for good health care in all parts of our state because it is a critical part of our economic and social infrastructure and needs to be robust and available."

As one of the co-sponsors of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, Steffen is hopeful it will help bring physicians to Wisconsin.

"I think ensuring we have the best and brightest working for us is part of our shared goal as a state to provide that high level of health care that people demand and employers are looking for so when we can make adjustments that improve our health care infrastructure, we need to be working on that," Steffen said.

Steffen just completed his first term in the state Legislature and is looking forward to the next session. He represents the 4th Assembly District and was previously director of external affairs/government relations for AT&T. He served as a Brown County supervisor and was a trustee in the Village of Howard.

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Rural Conference Keynote Focuses on What Makes Health Consumers Tick

The 2016 Wisconsin Rural Health Conference will kick off with a keynote presentation by Ryan Donohue of the National Research Corporation. Donohue is a national thought leader in the realm of health care consumerism, conducting extensive research over the last decade on the effects of consumerism on the U.S. health care industry. Donohue will share what’s important to health care consumers as they make decisions, why consumers are not connecting with hospitals and health systems, and how rural health care providers can use the information to improve that relationship with past, current and future patients.

In addition, this year’s event will include a plenary session presented by Toby Freier, president of New Ulm Medical Center in New Ulm, Minnesota; the ever-popular state of Wisconsin health care session presented by the leaders of the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative; and an inspirational closing session by Sgt. Keni Thomas, former U.S. Army Ranger and Bronze Star Medal for Valor recipient.

Make attendance at this year’s conference a priority. Register today to join your colleagues at the 2016 Wisconsin Rural Health Conference June 29-July 1 at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. Online registration and conference information are available at https://events.SignUp4.net/16Rural.

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CMS Clarifies Meaningful Use Measure for Hospitals Starting in 2018

On June 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a notice that corrected a Stage 3 health information exchange reporting measure for hospitals.

Under the correction, hospitals attesting to the Stage 3 meaningful use reporting measures must incorporate into the patient’s record an electronic summary of care document for more than 40 percent of transitions and referrals received and patient encounters with new patients. Before the correction, the summary of care document would have needed to come from a source other than the provider’s EHR system.

In order to avoid Medicare penalties, hospitals must successfully report on the Stage 3 meaningful use measures beginning in 2018. The Stage 3 reporting objectives and measures were finalized in a CMS rule released last October.

The CMS correcting notice may be found here. The October 16, 2015 CMS meaningful use final rule may be found here.

For additional information, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, at abrenton@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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WHA Launches Webinar Series Focused on Legal and Regulatory Hot Topics

In July, WHA will launch a monthly WHA Member Forum webinar series focused on current legal and regulatory hot topics. There is no fee for these webinars, which are intended for WHA hospital and corporate members as a member benefit, but pre-registration is required. The series will include a range of topics, each presented by a representative of a WHA corporate member law firm.

The first session, "A Practical Approach to Complying with EMTALA," will be offered July 13, and registration is now open at https://events.SignUp4.net/16LegalSeries. This presentation will focus on identifying where and when EMTALA applies, the processes and documentation required by EMTALA and ways to meet these requirements. In addition, the webinar will feature tools and mechanisms for proactively avoiding liability and will identify common pitfalls leading to CMS citations. The July 13 webinar will be co-presented by Sarah Coyne and Jon Kammerzelt of Quarles & Brady LLP.

Additional topics in the series, each presented by a representative from a WHA corporate member law firm, will include:

Topic descriptions of each session are available at https://events.SignUp4.net/16LegalSeries, and individual webinar dates will be added as confirmed. For registration questions, contact Kayla Chatterton at kchatterton@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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Webinar Focuses on National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities

On July 21, WHA is offering a one-hour complimentary webinar to assist Wisconsin hospital members in learning more about the national initiative to eliminate health care disparities. This national effort is focused on increasing the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data; increasing cultural competency training and increasing diversity in governance and leadership. The content will include special consideration to equity in a rural setting.

This webinar will be led by Tomás León, president and CEO of the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, and will include additional focus on the rural perspective to health equity. This complimentary webinar is open to all WHA hospital and corporate members. An audio recording of the webinar will be available after the event, but you must register to receive the recording.

The American Hospital Association, American College of Healthcare Executives, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States, and America’s Essential Hospitals are working together on this initiative. WHA has signed on to the pledge and encourages member hospitals to participate in this informational webinar on July 21 to learn more about the national campaign, and then consider joining.

This webinar will take place July 21 from 12:00-1:00 pm. More information and online registration are available at https://events.SignUp4.net/16Equity0721. For content questions, contact Kelly Court at kcourt@wha.org. For registration questions, contact Kayla Chatterton at kchatterton@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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Fast Facts from the WHA Information Center: June is Cataract Awareness Month

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. According to Prevent Blindness, cataract is the leading cause of blindness in the world. And, there are more than 24 million Americans age 40 and older with cataracts. More than half of all Americans will have cataracts by age 80.

While cataracts are one of the most common causes of vision loss, they are treatable with cataract surgery. In 2015, there were 72,891 cataract surgeries in Wisconsin outpatient surgery settings. That is a 15.3 percent increase of cataract surgeries since 2011.

Data provided by the WHA Information Center (WHAIC). WHAIC
is dedicated to collecting, analyzing and disseminating complete, accurate and timely data and reports about charges, utilization, quality and efficiency provided by Wisconsin hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and other health care providers.

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