February 26, 2016
Volume 60, Issue 8


WHA Hails Package of Mental Health Reforms
New law creates mental health bed locator program; Encourages provider care coordination for patients with mental health needs


On February 26, Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a bill that will provide over $2 million in funding to test alternate payment models in the state Medicaid program that encourage mental health care coordination within an integrated health system and promote psychiatric consultations between providers. Dozens of WHA members attended the bill signing, which was held at Bellin Psychiatric Center in Green Bay. 

The new law incorporates many recommendations that were proposed by the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s 2014 Medicaid Work Group, and passage of this legislation was a WHA goal for the 2015-2016 legislative session.

The law will help to reduce ER wait times for individuals who require an inpatient psychiatric bed by funding the creation and operation of an online database and tool that will enable ER staff to more quickly identify hospitals that have an available and appropriate psychiatric bed at a given time.

“WHA was proud to work with Representatives Czaja and Kolste and Senators Vukmir and Bewley to develop this forward-thinking set of public policies that will demonstrate the role providers can play in better coordinating care for patients with mental illness in our Medicaid program,” said WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding.

Borgerding said Wisconsin hospitals and health systems continue a tradition of partnership with the State of Wisconsin by delivering high-quality, high-value health care to Wisconsin residents and Medicaid enrollees.

“Wisconsin health care providers are among the most innovative in the country. They welcome an opportunity to publicly test new integrated and coordinated care delivery and payment models that can reduce utilization, lower costs and produce better outcomes for individuals with mental illness in the Medicaid program,” according to Borgerding.


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“Opioids are Ripping the Fabric of Our Communities”
Holden tells WHA health care leaders at first of four webinars


As a health system leader in Massachusetts and former chair of the board of directors for the Massachusetts Hospital Association, Peter Holden shared his experience in working within his own hospital and with other health systems to help curb opioid abuse and misuse. Last year, 1400 people in Massachusetts lost their lives to opioid or heroin addiction, and it has not started to drop yet.

“I have not lost anyone to opioids, but I have to be honest…I am sick and tired of going to wakes and funerals for my neighbors, friends and our employees,” Holden said. “Anyone who says this is just an occasional lapse or bad behavior doesn’t get it. It is ripping the fabric out of my community, and if we don’t stop it, who will?” 

As a part of the ongoing WHA Hospital Leaders Opioid Initiative, WHA hosted the first in a series of webinars addressing the growing opioid epidemic in Wisconsin. Holden, president/CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital of Plymouth, Massachusetts, shared with webinar attendees the work he has done with his hospital leaders and the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) and the collective efforts to lead the culture change among prescribers to examine their own prescribing practices. Holden explained during the webinar how MHA took a strong leadership position, and like WHA, unanimously passed a resolution to tackle the issue. 

Prior to Holden’s keynote presentation, Steven Rush, WHA vice president, workforce and clinical practice, provided background information on the magnitude of the opioid issue in Wisconsin, as well as WHA’s work being done as a part of the WHA Hospital Leaders Opioid Initiative. Therese Pandl, president/CEO of HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division and immediate past chair of the WHA board of directors spoke about the role and importance of WHA’s Board involvement.

“As you know, cultural change work is not for the faint of heart, but we as hospital leaders have the responsibility and opportunity to make real change as we provide specific strategies for our providers, our patients and our communities,” Pandl said.

Chuck Shabino, MD, WHA chief medical officer, closed the webinar by first defining the opioid issue as an important public health and safety issue. Shabino said everyone, from patient to provider, to communities, law enforcement and governmental officials, has a role in addressing this issue and that a multi-stakeholder approach in solving the problem must occur if any success in curbing the opioid abuse and misuse issue is to occur.

Future webinar topics included in this series are: 

    “Wisconsin Best Practices in Tackling the Opioid Abuse Issue,” scheduled March 17. To register, visit: http://events.SignUp4.net/WIBestPrac-Opioids 

    “Drug Diversion from the Health Care Workplace: A Multiple Victim Crime,” scheduled April 5. To register, visit: https://events.SignUp4.net/drugdiversion-opioids

    “Navigating Wisconsin’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and Controlled Substances Board,” scheduled April 27. To register, visit: https://events.SignUp4.net/PDMP-CSB-Opioids

If you want more information about this webinar or WHA’s Health Care Leaders Opioid Initiative, see www.wha.org/opioid.aspx or contact Steven Rush at srush@wha.org.

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Guest Column: ISG Advisors Turns 35
Still committed to helping WHA and its members maximize employee benefits
By Jon Braddock, President/CEO, ISG Advisors


In 1981, the Wisconsin Hospital Association founded the WHA Shared Services Program to close existing gaps in the marketplace and help WHA better serve its members. Over the years, there have been a few name changes and in 2010, Jon and Michelle Braddock purchased the company now called ISG Advisors. Despite the changes, ISG remains committed to serving WHA and its members as a full-service provider of employee benefits, retirement and financial planning services, executive life and disability programs, and employee communication solutions.

Employee Benefits: Essential But Unruly
Employers and employees both know the critical role the workplace plays in offering a better quality of life through a well-designed benefits package.

What employees may not know, however, is how to get the most of their benefit offerings by selecting the right benefit options for themselves or their families. And employers may not know how to properly analyze claims made on benefit plans, how to interpret data to adjust their benefits offerings, or when to develop or expand certain benefits, such as wellness programs to curtail excessive medical expenses.

For Employees
Employee benefits can be a dynamic asset for an organization, by acting as a magnet for attracting and retaining top talent.

To achieve gains in productivity, morale, talent acquisition, and retention, it’s important to highlight the value of the benefit package. Employees will have a better understanding of and appreciation for their benefits when employers have an education and communication strategy that includes a variety of communication channels. Technology solutions, seminars and group meetings, one-on-one guidance, videos and newsletters allow employees to get answers easily throughout the year; thereby, significantly enhancing their perception and understanding of the benefits being offered.

For Employers
Benefits costs can place a significant burden on employers. With new health care reform rules, some employers may be tempted to drop coverage and accept a penalty instead, but employers should consider the employee satisfaction implications.

Instead of reducing or eliminating benefits, employers can choose to manage their benefit costs through claim analysis and strategic alignment. Ongoing analysis can be used to refine popular benefit offerings, pinpoint underutilized benefits, and regularly examine employee insurance claims—all of which will continue to improve an organization’s benefit package. 

Claims analysis and strategic alignment considerations are beneficial to an employer in a number of ways, including:

WHA’s Premier Partner 
The cost of employee benefits along with rising employee expectations makes it difficult for employers to balance employee needs with their own capabilities and bottom lines. As WHA’s Premier Partner, ISG Advisors strives to become your strategic partner by taking the time to understand your challenges and provide solutions that support your organization’s needs.

Learn more about ISG Advisors at www.isg-advisors.com/wha.html.

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WHA Telemedicine Task Force Responds to MEB’s Continued Push for Rule

WHA’s Task Force on Telemedicine met for the third time February 19 to continue the work of addressing the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board’s (MEB) proposed rule on telemedicine, MED 24. As reported in the February 19 issue of The Valued Voice, WHA has maintained a position that the proposed MED 24 is duplicative of existing rules that oversee the practice of medicine and is therefore not needed. However, upon the urging of WHA to include stakeholder input, the MEB decided to appoint a MED 24 working committee consisting of four MEB members to pursue the proposed rule. 

The WHA Telemedicine Task Force will continue their review of the proposed rule language prior to each MEB committee meeting, the first of which is scheduled March 16. 

WHA’s Task Force will continue to meet monthly for the next six months to coincide with the MEB’s proposal to devote six to seven months in the revision and rewriting phase of this rule-making process. Direct questions to Steven Rush, WHA vice president, workforce and clinical practice, at srush@wha.org.

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WHA Physician Leaders Council Focuses on 2016 WHA Goals

The WHA Physician Leaders Council reviewed WHA’s 2016 goals approved at the February 18 WHA Board meeting, with a specific focus on physician and clinical practice-related goals. The highlighted goals included those related to physician engagement, physician and health care workforce including GME funding improvements; identifying targeted reimbursement for physicians; engagement on the development of new Medicare physician payment models coming out of the post-SGR MACRA legislation; WHA’s opioid initiative; and, explicit consideration of a physician leader for appointment to the WHA Board. Staff noted these goals recognize the integral part physicians play in WHA member organizations and WHA’s advocacy agenda.

Staff also provided updates and facilitated discussion on WHA priority legislative and regulatory issues including the Medical Examining Board’s MED 24 proposed rule on telemedicine, new behavioral health integrated care pilots and the creation of a mental health bed locator, and the Wisconsin Health care Data Modernization Act that will enable more precise, accurate and timely information about community health needs. Staff and the Council also discussed the status of APNP rulemaking with the Board of Nursing. Staff provided an overview of legislation unlikely to pass this session but that may continue to be discussed and potentially reintroduced next year. 

The Council discussed the progress on WHA’s multi-part opioid initiative approved by the WHA Board in December and heard an overview of the upcoming physician and hospital leader focused webinar series being offered by WHA. The webinar series is designed to assist hospital and physician leaders understand the growing public health issue of the misuse and abuse of opioids, clarify their role in addressing it, and create a culture of change responsive to this growing epidemic (see article on page 1).

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Grassroots Spotlight: Congressman Glenn Grothman Tours Children’s Hospital-Fox Valley 

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin–Fox Valley hosted Congressman Glenn Grothman February 16. Grothman toured the NICU during his time at Children’s Hospital.

Pictured from left to right: Abraham Liebeskind, MD (neonatology), Congressman Glenn Grothman, Sarah Krueger (family representative) and Deb Franckowiak (executive director).

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Still Time to Register for Advocacy Day 2016 - March 30 in Madison

There’s still time to register for Advocacy Day 2016 and make an impact on our legislators in Madison. Advocacy Day is one of the best ways hospital employees, trustees and volunteers can make an important, visible impact in the State Capitol. Help make the 2016 event a great success by registering today at: http://events.SignUp4.net/16AdvocacyDay0330.

This year, get the Washington insider’s scoop from Rick Pollack, president/CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA). He’s been a member of AHA’s advocacy team for the past 33 years and will share his view of federal political activities during this presidential election year. 

Join over 1,000 of your peers from across the state at Advocacy Day 2016 March 30. The day’s agenda is included in this week’s packet, as well as online at http://events.SignUp4.net/16AdvocacyDay0330.

For Advocacy Day questions, contact Jenny Boese at 608-268-1816 or jboese@wha.org. For registration questions, contact Kayla Chatterton at kchatterton@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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WHA to Host May 5 Community Benefit/Population Health Summit
Focus on building collaborative community partnerships


Improving community health while providing high-quality acute care has always been the mission of Wisconsin’s hospitals and health systems. The Affordable Care Act didn’t change that basic goal, but it did bring new reporting requirements and a greater emphasis on community-wide participation in the community health needs assessment (CHNA) and the process of setting community health priorities. 

The Wisconsin Hospital Association has made it a priority to help hospitals and health systems meet the requirements of the ACA related to Schedule H and the CHNA planning and implementation process. On May 5, WHA is hosting a statewide Summit at the Sheraton Madison Hotel featuring state and national experts who will share their expertise in the areas of compliance, the CHNA process and best practices that are helping to create healthier communities in Wisconsin. 

Topics and speakers include:

    “Creating and Sustaining Local Partnerships that Improve Community Health”
    Karen Timberlake, Director, UW Population Health Institute

    “Wisconsin State Health Plan: Working Together Toward a Healthier State”
    Karen McKeown, RN, MSN, State Health Officer and Administrator of Public Health

    “Building Collaborative Relations Across County Lines”
    Kevin Stranberg, Director of Public Relations, Memorial Medical Center, Ashland

    “Get on the Bus: From CHNA to Action!”
    Paula Morgen, Community Health Manager, ThedaCare
    Kurt Eggebrecht, Director and Public Health Officer, Appleton Health Department

    “Schedule H, CHNAs and Implementation Plans: An Update on Collection and Reporting Requirements”
    Trina Hackensmith, Vice President, Lyon Software

    “WHA Update: Collecting and Reporting Community Benefits”
    Jenna Hanson, Community Benefits Liaison, WHA
    Mary Kay Grasmick, Vice President, Communications, WHA

WHA members are encouraged to invite public and community health partners and participate in this Summit as a team. Registration information will be available in next week’s Valued Voice

For questions about the Summit, contact Mary Kay Grasmick mgrasmick@wha.org. Direct registration questions to Kayla Chatterton at kchatterton@wha.org.

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Wisconsin Newborn Screening Program Trains International Nurses

Usually in winter it’s Wisconsinites who head south for warmer weather. But in early February, it was two nurses from Puerto Rico’s newborn screening program who headed north to brave the cold and learn from the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene (WSLH) newborn screening (NBS) staff.

Ledith Resto Melendez and Zulley Peńaloza Medina spent the first week of February learning about Wisconsin newborn screening testing processes. Puerto Rico’s newborn screening program, which is affiliated with the University Pediatric Hospital in San Juan, received a NewSTEPS grant from the Association of Public Health Laboratories to implement Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) screening. They started testing for SCID in August 2015.

In 2008, Wisconsin became the first place in the world to routinely screen newborns for SCID. Babies with the disorder are born without a functioning immune system. The Wisconsin newborn screening lab has served as a training center for many state and some international newborn screening programs that want to implement SCID testing. 

Even though Puerto Rico only began SCID testing months ago, Melendez and Medina wanted to visit the WSLH NBS lab soon after implementation for quality assurance purposes.

“We want to review our processes with Wisconsin to make sure we are doing things well and see if there are any changes we need to make,” Melendez explained.

And since they were here, they decided to learn all they could about the testing processes for the other 43 disorders screened for in the WSLH NBS lab.

“We have had an opportunity to see every step for every test, from punching blood spots to data entry to testing to results reporting to follow-up,” Melendez said. “We’ve seen every piece of equipment and talked with all the staff.”

The Puerto Rico newborn screening program screens about 34,000 babies annually for 29 disorders. In Wisconsin, the NBS program screens more than 60,000 babies yearly for 44 disorders. The lab reports that 99 percent of the screening cards are returned by the hospitals to the state lab within four days of when the blood is collected. 

The newborn screening “turnaround” times are publicly reported and available on WHA’s CheckPoint website at: http://wiCheckPoint.org/report_topic_BirthRatings.aspx?tab=2.

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Wisconsin Partnership Program Seeks Community Partners
Applications for Community Opportunity Grant Programs available now


The Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is seeking applicants for its 2016 Community Opportunity Grants Program. 

The Partnership Program’s Community Opportunity Grants provide up to $50,000 for up to two years to support implementation and evaluation strategies identified in local community health needs assessment plans and community health improvement plans as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and state law. The grants program also seeks to enhance collaboration among public health departments, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, clinics, health care systems, schools, businesses and government leaders on local health priorities. The Community Opportunity Grants program has three objectives:

1. Support implementation and evaluation strategies that address health priorities identified in a community health improvement plan (CHIP) or a community health needs assessment (CHNA) implementation strategy.
2. Support sustainable interventions that will have an impact on the selected priority, with an emphasis on policy, systems or environmental change.
3. Increase the capacity and effectiveness of multi-sector collaborations.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Partnership Program funded 11 projects through the Community Opportunity Grants Program. The projects focus on improving the health of state residents of all ages and address a wide range of topics, including obesity, alcohol and other drug abuse, child abuse and mental health. 

For more information, including a description of past awards, eligibility, and to review the Request for Partnerships (RfPs), visit the Wisconsin Partnership Program website.

The Wisconsin Partnership Program represents a far-reaching commitment by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health to improve the health of Wisconsin residents through investments in research, education and community partnerships. Established in 2004, the Wisconsin Partnership Program has awarded more than 400 research, education and community grants totaling more than $180 million aimed at improving the health of Wisconsin residents.

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Hospital Emergency Readiness Efforts on Display for Winter Storm

Before Winter Storm “Bucky” descended on northeast Wisconsin February 2, Wisconsin’s hospitals were ready and prepared to respond, due in large part to the emergency preparedness foundation laid by the Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Program (WHEPP) in partnership with WHA and other stakeholders.

WHEPP is a federally grant-funded state emergency preparedness program administered in Wisconsin by the Department of Health Services (DHS). WHEPP supports hospital emergency preparedness planning and response, and for over a decade, has provided millions of dollars to hospitals and health care systems for emergency preparedness, including training and exercises and the purchase of equipment and medical supplies. Because hospitals are the cornerstone of preparedness and response, WHA has long served in a leadership and advisory capacity for WHEPP.

Building off the collaborative partnerships that WHEPP has fostered over the years, Wisconsin has begun transitioning to a more regional and coordinated model of emergency preparedness embodied by creating regional health care coalitions—groups of health care organizations and emergency preparedness partners (e.g., hospitals, EMS, trauma, and public health) that collaborate for the common goal of uniform and unified response to a medical surge emergency.

Preparations for Winter Storm “Bucky” in northeast Wisconsin illustrate the important role that WHEPP and the health care coalitions have played in equipping hospitals with the tools necessary to provide coordinated support to the community in emergency situations, according to Deb Cross, regional director of emergency management, EC and safety for Medxcel (an Ascension subsidiary) and vice-chair of WHEPP’s advisory group.

At the first sign of the impending winter storm, “we were opening our incident command centers and looking at the availability of beds in the entire region,” Cross said. “We were sending out numerous WI-Trac alerts so hospitals could constantly monitor the big picture of all our regional facilities and the capacity we have.” WI-Trac is a WHEPP-funded tool that hospitals use to report bed counts, issue alerts, request resources, and otherwise communicate with each other and with emergency response partners such as EMS and public health in emergency and non-emergency events alike.

Cross also said that in the midst of such work, “We were also staying in communication with the community partners in our regional health care coalition, such as EMS, emergency management and public health to make sure we were all on the same page and functioning together to maintain quality patient care.” Because of the foundational work of WHEPP, Cross said, “We have advanced tremendously with being able to help support the community while working closely with WHA, health care partners and other community partners. These are partnerships that are working to make our communities stronger and more resilient and our state ready.”

If you have any questions regarding emergency preparedness or health care coalitions, contact, Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel at 608-274-1820 or abrenton@wha.org, or visit: www.wha.org/emergencyPreparedness.aspx.

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