February 20, 2015
Volume 59, Issue 7

 

JFC Co-chair Nygren Tells WHA Board: “I will stand with you on DSH”

Joint Finance Committee (JFC) Co-chair Rep. John Nygren’s (R-Marinette) support for the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program has not waned since 2013, when he was instrumental in seeing that DSH was inserted in the 2013-2015 state budget. Nygren was pleased Governor Scott Walker included the reauthorization of DSH in his recently-submitted budget. However, Nygren cautioned WHA Board members there are many competing interests for state funds, highlighting the importance of WHA’s continued advocacy with state legislators. 

“I will stand with you on DSH,” Nygren told WHA Board members at the February 19 meeting in Madison. “It does not mean it is a done deal; it will take some work to keep it in the budget.”

Nygren urged hospitals and health systems to continue communicating with all members of the Legislature to garner support for funding the program, noting there has been $2.7 billion in new state revenue allocated to the program in the last three biennial budgets.

Nygren is familiar with the issues surrounding the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation program and noted that when some lawmakers proposed a medical fee schedule in the system, he and others raised concerns about the proposal. He said he is very concerned about the uncertainty Wisconsin’s hospitals and health systems are currently operating under, and how a change in medical reimbursement in the Worker’s Compensation program may make that problem worse. He said a future proposal needs to take all things into consideration within the Worker’s Compensation program.

“We would rather come to a solution that everyone at the table can support rather than a reform that does not take everything into consideration,” according to Nygren. “We are having a better dialogue, but that does not mean we won’t need your input.” 

Referring to some reports that the Governor is looking at pursuing a self-funded model for the nearly 250,000 lives covered in Wisconsin’s state health insurance program, Nygren is concerned about the cost impact of removing nearly a quarter of a million people from the market. He believes his background as a health insurance agent gives him a keen understanding of why a competitive insurance market across the state is a positive for our state. 

WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding commended Nygren on his work to curb opiate and heroin abuse in Wisconsin by authoring and championing the Heroin and Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) agenda. Borgerding said health care is and will be committed to working with policymakers to fight this devastating addiction. Nygren said their emphasis this session will be on the overuse and abuse of opiates. He commended the health systems in his area for stepping up to address this growing problem. Nygren said his first HOPE agenda passed the Assembly unanimously, and he believes that is “a testament to the fact that the problem is statewide.”

When asked what hospital supporters can do to support their issues during the state budget debate, Nygren said the best approach is one of making local legislators aware of the challenges hospitals face, because as the Legislature makes its budget decisions, “the squeaky wheel get the grease.” 

President’s Report
Borgerding presented the Association’s 2015 goals, which the Board approved. The 2015 goals set an aggressive work plan for staff and provide a method to measure and report the Association’s accomplishments. Borgerding described the goal-setting process, which starts with WHA staff anticipating what lies ahead, and from that, member input helps set direction. Borgerding said the Board and WHA Executive Committee both provided input on the goals. In the end, the goals recognize the strengths of the Association and build on its assets to set a course for 2015.

“The goals are designed to be proactive to ensure that we are leading, while at the same time defending and protecting the progress we have made in our advocacy efforts,” Borgerding said. 

Health care transparency and quality improvement are just two areas that Borgerding said WHA will continue to advance in 2015. Opportunities to expand quality improvement and public reporting into ambulatory and physician-level settings will be explored over the next year. 

The Government Accountability Board just released their rankings, and WHA topped dozens of organizations as the number two lobbying group in the state, second only to Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC). 

“This is really a nice gauge of what we are and how we rank in terms of commitment of time and effort to our top expected member benefit—Advocacy,” Borgerding said.

Also during the President’s Report, Brian Potter, WHA senior vice president, finance, reviewed the preliminary 2014 financial results for both WHA and the WHA Information Center with the Board. Potter said the 2014 audit report would be distributed at the April board meeting.

The Board also approved the WHA Council and Committee rosters for 2015; and, the Board approved the nomination of Gerard Colman, chief operating officer, Aurora Health Care as a new WHA Board member, replacing Steve Bablitch, chief of strategic business affairs, Aurora Health Care.

WHA state budget focus: Medicaid DSH, physician Medicaid payment boost, behavioral health
With the state budget process now in full swing, Borgerding said WHA staff is busy analyzing the Governor’s nearly 2,000-page budget to identify any proposals that have an impact on WHA members. The good news is the Governor funded the cost-to-continue Medicaid and included the reauthorization of DSH in his budget. However, Borgerding said the goal will be to make DSH a permanent line item in the budget that will not require legislative action every two years. WHA will also advocate for an increase in DSH and Medicaid reimbursement for primary care physicians and behavioral health reforms. 

WHA has been actively engaged in advocacy and grassroots efforts related to the state budget process. WHA Senior Vice President Kyle O’Brien said WHA has been facilitating meetings between legislators and hospital leaders to help educate the policymakers on the direct impact that underfunding Medicaid has on their communities. Hospital leaders, along with trustees, have been submitting letters to the editors advocating for adequate Medicaid funding to help address the cost shift. Another component of WHA’s strong advocacy strategy is editorial board meetings. To date, WHA and hospital leaders have participated in two editorial board meetings (see La Crosse Tribune editorial at http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/wisconsin-hospitals-target-million-hidden-health-care-tax/article_e94bf75f-d67e-56ab-8672-1b88012535ea.html), with several more scheduled later in February. 

Borgerding directed the Board’s attention to a handout created by WHA staff that showed county-specific data related to the number of people in Wisconsin who have signed up for insurance through the federal exchange in 2015. The chart also showed the number of enrollees who were eligible for a subsidy. (See related story below.) The King vs. Burwell Supreme Court case could force states, such as Wisconsin, to have a viable option in place in the event the Court rules the subsidies are unconstitutional. Borgerding and the WHA team attended a meeting recently in Washington, D.C. with Congressman Paul Ryan and discussed the case, its potential impact on Wisconsin and a “Plan B” in case the subsidies are removed; however, he said viable options must be in place in Wisconsin in case the federal fix fails. WHA will play a leading role in developing a backup if the high Court rules in favor of the plaintiff.

WHA creates new strategic partnership
WHA is creating a strategic partnership with the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) to create a new corporation that will focus on physician quality reporting, which WHA Chief Quality Officer Kelly Court presented to the Board. The new corporation will specialize in assisting physician practices and hospitals with meeting the CMS Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) requirements. For more information, see story below.

Federal advocacy efforts focus on SGR, RAC, short stay denials
Jenny Boese, WHA vice president, federal affairs & advocacy, provided the Board with an overview of Congressional activity and highlighted key issues. One of those issues is the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). The current SGR “patch” expires March 31 and Congress must once again determine whether to repeal—to the tune of now $175 billion—or continue the patch. Without Congressional action, physician reimbursements will see a 21 percent decline. Of perennial concern to hospitals and health systems is how to pay for these patches, as hospitals/systems have been the pay-for in the past. Additionally, Boese touched on potential legislation being discussed by the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, which would create a new “hospital prospective payment system” to address the problems of Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) and short stay denials. WHA does not necessarily believe a completely new payment system is necessary to address this issue and conveyed that to House Ways & Means Committee staff in a recent meeting. WHA will again be in Washington, D.C. March 19 for meetings with Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation on these and other issues.

WHA continues its work as DHS reforms hospital regulation
Eliminating inconsistencies between federal and state hospital standards creates efficiencies for Wisconsin hospitals. In Wisconsin, this streamlining of the hospital regulations, DHS 124, was set in motion by 2013 WI Act 236, which became law last spring. Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, briefed the Board on WHA’s continuing work on the DHS 124 reformation process. Act 236 sunsets several subchapters of DHS 124 and establishes the Federal Conditions of Participation as the state regulatory standard—both beginning on July 1, 2016. Shortly after last year’s passage of Act 236, WHA established a DHS 124 Task Force which includes hospital leaders from large and small hospitals and health systems across the state, that has been developing recommendations for updates to those portions of DHS 124 that remain and other reformed provisions to DHS 124. The input from the Task Force and other WHA members is helping to guide WHA’s regulatory advocacy regarding updates to the hospital regulations between now and July 2016.

WHA Information Center 
Brian Potter, WHA senior vice president, finance, presented the WHA Information Center goals to the Board. In 2015, the WHA Information Center will:

The WHA Information Center will also be working on a number of projects in 2015 aimed at making the data collection process more efficient for providers in an effort to simplify hospitals’ administrative burden.

New measures for CheckPoint approved
CheckPoint will be adding eight new quality measures in 2015. New measures are being added to ensure CheckPoint stays current with the national quality focus. The WHA Board of Directors approved the following changes for the coming year:

Measures to be added: Measures that will be removed from CheckPoint: “CheckPoint helps health care consumers understand the high level of care Wisconsin hospitals provide and helps hospitals focus their quality improvement efforts. These changes will ensure our state is staying current with the continually-changing quality environment,” said Kelly Court, WHA chief quality officer.

WHA council reports
Medical and Professional Affairs: Kelly Court reported that the Council on Medical and Professional Affairs met recently with the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin (PSW) to learn more about recent practice changes that allow physicians to delegate medical acts to pharmacists. PSW is also proposing new legislation that would expand pharmacists’ ability to administer injections for medications other than vaccines. This practice change would improve the efficiency of care for many patients.

Rural Health: Jennifer Frank, WHA, said planning continues on the Council for the 2015 Rural Health Conference, which will be held June 17-19 at Glacier Canyon Lodge at The Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. The committee has identified preferred topics and presenters both for keynote and breakout sessions, including governance-related sessions, as approximately 20 percent of the attendees at this annual event are hospital trustees.


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Health Chairs Vukmir, Sanfelippo: We Have to Continue Our Commitment to Health Care 
WHA, Hospital CEOs, stress importance of DSH to health chairs during WisEye panel


Senate Health and Human Services Chair Sen. Leah Vukmir and Assembly Health Committee Chair Joe Sanfelippo both voiced support for continuing the state’s commitment to funding health care during a panel discussion focused on Medicaid hosted by Wisconsin Eye February 6. Vukmir, who is also on the Joint Finance Committee, said as a nurse, she is especially sensitive to heath care issues.

“Health care issues have such a ripple effect across other policy issues,” according to Vukmir. “Our state has a demonstrated record and a commitment toward making sure that our health and medical facilities are receiving the funds they need. I obviously will be focusing in on that and watching it very closely.”

Debra Standridge, president, Wheaton Franciscan St. Joseph’s Hospital, and Carolynn Glocka, president, Aurora Sinai, joined WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding and the legislative leaders in a panel discussion focused on Medicaid moderated by WisEye journalist Steve Walters.

“We have had a strong commitment to the health care needs of the citizens of the state,” said Sanfelippo. “Joint Finance will have a very tough job. We [the Legislature] definitely are going to continue our commitment to health care in this state. That will include taking a look at Medicaid reimbursement. Luckily, the Governor included Disproportionate Share Hospital payment going forward in this budget. But we are hearing from our hospitals and doctors there is still significant pressure to raise those revenues up.” 

When asked what message she will take back to her caucus, Vukmir responded, “We have to continue our commitment to the medical facilities in our state, especially those serving the most vulnerable individuals. It is imperative there is a safety net for individuals who are most vulnerable.”

Legislators will need to prioritize the needs of the state, a process Sanfelippo said involves “looking at the population that uses these (health) services and weigh their needs against other interests and needs in the state.” But in the end, he said, he believes the commitment that has been made to funding health care will continue into the future. 

“We have to prioritize our spending to make sure we can take care of things that are really truly important, and where our responsibilities lie,” Sanfelippo said. “So when it comes down to a question about whether to fund (for example) turning manure to electricity or properly funding Medicaid, for me, it is a no brainer; it is a matter of setting priorities.” 

Borgerding pointed out that Wisconsin’s Medicaid program is not only a cost to state government, but because it is chronically underfunded, it is also a cost to employers and health care providers, particularly safety net providers who are struggling to care for a high number of uninsured and Medicaid patients every day. 

“When hospitals are reimbursed much less than what it costs them to provide the care, they must recoup those unpaid costs from everyone else,” Borgerding said. “Last year the cost shift resulted in upwards to $960 million in unpaid Medicaid costs that had to be shifted to everyone else. That is like another corporate tax on our employers. It increases costs to our health care providers who are struggling to care for a high number of uninsured and Medicaid patients every day.”

Glocka said the number of patients being seen in her hospital’s emergency room is growing, and nearly 80 percent are covered by Medicaid. That poses both financial and logistical issues. The challenge is to connect the patients with a medical home so they are seen in a setting that is more appropriate to the level of care they require.

“Those who are new to Medicaid have historically tried to manage themselves at home,” Glocka said. “Now they are covered by Medicaid, and they don’t know where to go so they come to our ER. We must set them up for continued care.” 

Both Standridge and Glocka echoed an unwavering commitment to their community.

“We are not going to turn our backs on our population. We are going to be there, but we have to help our communities make a paradigm shift…and help them make a transition from receiving care in the ER department to a proper outside medical home,” Standridge said. “I am going to continue to engage with…the Legislature and ask them to take a look every single year at what is happening in our communities…and make the case to champion increases in Medicaid.”

The full interview is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDRWJ2L0B04&feature=youtu.be

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Nearly 206,000 Wisconsinites Select Health Plan in the Exchange

As open enrollment for 2015 has come to a close, nearly 206,000 people in Wisconsin have chosen a health plan through the federally-facilitated insurance exchange, according to data from the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Enrollment is about 66,000 higher compared to 2014, the first year of open enrollment, when HHS identified about 140,000 people in Wisconsin as having selected coverage through plans offered in the exchange. 

Hospitals throughout the state continued working this year to help patients enroll or re-enroll in coverage, with staff on hand to offer assistance in signing up through the healthcare.gov portal. Hospitals also participated in Regional Enrollment Networks and joined other community members to conduct outreach and education about the importance of having coverage and how to enroll. 

HHS has regularly released exchange enrollment data throughout the 2015 open enrollment period. In January, HHS released enrollment data by zip code, and a report on the number of individuals by state who had qualified for financial assistance. In Wisconsin, HHS determined that about 89 percent of those signing up for coverage were eligible for premium assistance—higher than the national average of 87 percent, and higher than many states in the country. This data, along with maps showing these enrollment trends can be found on WHA’s website at www.wha.org/exchangemedicaidenrollment.aspx.

In related coverage news, the state Department of Health Services has continued to update Medicaid enrollment statistics. In January 2015, Wisconsin’s BadgerCare Plus childless adults enrollment reached 148,300, an increase of over 134,000 since last March. This increase in enrollment has been offset by the decline of over 60,000 parents/caretakers since March 2014. The latest Medicaid enrollment statistics by county can be found at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/badgercareplus/enrolldata.htm.

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Joint Finance Committee Announces Agency Briefings
First step in budget process begins March 2


On March 2, the Legislature’s powerful budget-writing Joint Finance Committee will begin its first step in reviewing and approving the biennial budget bill presented by Governor Scott Walker. The Committee begins its work every cycle by hearing from state agency leaders about the Governor’s proposed budget and how it impacts their agency. The state Department of Health Services will provide testimony to the Committee sometime on Tuesday, March 3, and the WHA government relations team will report on that hearing in the March 6 edition of The Valued Voice. 

Following agency briefings, the Joint Finance Committee will go on the road to take testimony from the public. The Committee is expected to meet in four different locations across the state, including Milwaukee, northeastern Wisconsin, west-central Wisconsin and northern Wisconsin. WHA will be working with hospital leaders across the state to submit testimony asking the Committee to increase the Disproportionate Share Hospital program in the Governor’s budget and make targeted investments in Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. 

The Joint Finance Committee will begin reviewing and amending the Governor’s budget proposal toward the end of March and will likely have their work completed by the end of May, when the budget bill then gets sent to the full Legislature for consideration. 

After an identical budget bill is passed by both chambers of the Legislature, the Governor then has an opportunity to review the budget and make any partial vetoes (sometimes called line-item vetoes). In the last budget, Gov. Walker used that authority to strike 57 different provisions from the Legislature’s version of the bill.

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President’s Column: Hospitals, Health Systems Crucial to Wisconsin’s Emergency Preparedness

Hospitals have always been central to a community’s ability to respond to a natural disaster or a pandemic. The recent readiness and mobilization efforts surrounding Ebola reinforced the importance of maintaining a robust emergency preparedness infrastructure.

Because emergency preparedness is an important capability for a hospital, WHA has long played a leadership role with the Wisconsin Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program (WHEPP). The WHEPP program, administered by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) in partnership with WHA and other stakeholders, was developed in 2002 to bolster the state’s disaster/emergency response.
For the past 12 years, WHEPP has assisted hospitals with the purchase of equipment and medical supplies to help defray expenses associated with training, testing and plan development. WHEPP has been a valuable partner with Wisconsin hospitals, but as health care continues to evolve, that has precipitated a dialogue about how emergency preparedness planning and implementation should progress to best serve a changing health care landscape. 

Building off the collaborative partnerships that WHEPP has fostered over the years, Wisconsin will begin to move toward a more regional model of emergency preparedness by creating health care coalitions (HCC). Nationally, federally grant-funded state hospital emergency preparedness programs, including WHEPP, are being pressured by adjustments to the grant guidelines to expand the role of HCCs in emergency preparedness capabilities, including disaster response and recovery, monitoring and management of resources, and coordination of emergency medical care. An “HCC” is a group of health care, public health and public safety organizations that have come together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other adverse events in the community.

There are good reasons for the hospital community to actively participate in the development of HCCs. The HCC model will assist in coordinating regional health care plans for large-scale disasters and will streamline information flow and promote uniform messaging within and across regions. In addition, there will be closer coordination between the various disciplines that do emergency preparedness work, including trauma, WHEPP and public health. 

Over the past two years, several senior leaders at Wisconsin hospitals have stepped forward to help with planning and leadership during the transition process. These leaders include Lawrence Donatelle, MD, VPMA Eastern Region Ministry Healthcare & CMO, St. Elizabeth Hospital; David Hartberg, CEO, Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital & Clinics; Susan Huerta, VP, quality, patient safety & performance improvement, Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin; Darrell Lentz, president, Aspirus Wausau Hospital; Gordon Lewis, CEO, Burnett Medical Center (and WHA Board Member); Jeffrey Smith, MD, EVP & interim chief clinical officer, Aurora Health Care; and DeAnn Thurmer, COO & administrator, Waupun Memorial Hospital.

The transition to a fully-implemented HCC model will evolve over time. WHA will support DHS in planning and strategy development. We’ll help with challenges and serve as a clearinghouse for members’ questions. WHA will continue to provide members with communication on important emergency preparedness-related issues. If you have 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/HealthcareCoalitions.aspx.

Eric Borgerding,
WHA President/CEO

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Grassroots Spotlight: Sen. Wanggaard Visits Wheaton All Saints (Racine)

Sen. Van Wanggaard visited with hospital leaders from Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-All Saints in his district. The group discussed the importance of Medicaid funding to the hospital, which sees a significant volume of Medicaid patients. In tandem, the group discussed how their local federally-qualified health center fits into the health care safety net in Racine County. 

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Hundreds Already Registered for Advocacy Day, April 28
You won’t want to miss this premier health care event


Busloads of hospital leaders, employees, trustees and volunteers begin at the crack of dawn to travel to Madison for WHA’s Advocacy Day event each year. 2015 will be no different with buses, vans and carpools all making their way to the State Capitol to learn and make their voices heard. This year’s event is perfectly timed—April 28—to fall right during legislative action on the biennial state budget bill, which means hospital advocates will be able to speak up about important budget issues like Medicaid funding.

“Hospitals are subject matter experts, and Advocacy Day gets us an audience with the stakeholders who can vote on key health care legislation. It is a very important day to participate in.” 
- 2014 Advocacy Day attendee 

Hundreds have already registered and WHA expects over 900 attendees at this year’s event. Attendees will hear from morning keynote Tucker Carlson, a nationally-known veteran journalist and political commentator who will share an insider’s view on Washington, D.C. and a look ahead to the 2016 elections. Luncheon keynote will be Governor Scott Walker (invited) and our legislator panel discussion will round out the morning sessions. 

“Great way to keep up on health care issues. Great education!”
-2014 Advocacy Day attendee

Attendees will have an issues briefing before heading to the State Capitol for their scheduled legislative meetings. Our goal? Advocating for policies that keep Wisconsin hospitals and health systems strong so they can continue to provide high-quality, high-value care.

“It is the perfect opportunity to tell elected officials the impact government has on our community.” 
-2014 Advocacy Day attendee

Make sure you are assembling your hospital contingent for 2015 Advocacy Day set for April 28, 2015 at the Monona Terrace in Madison. Registration is now open at: http://events.signup4.net/15AdvocacyDay0428

For Advocacy Day questions, contact Jenny Boese at 608-268-1816 or jboese@wha.org. For registration questions, contact Jenna Hanson at jenna.hanson@wha.org or 608-274-1820. 

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WHA to Create Strategic Joint Venture with WCHQ to Support Physician QRS Reporting

Physicians and non-physician providers that bill Medicare Part B or use Critical Access Hospital Method II billing are subject to the CMS Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) reporting requirement.. The penalties for not reporting quality results for 2015 will result in a two percent Medicare reimbursement penalty in 2016. The same data will be used by CMS to calculate the Medicare value modifier for individual providers and group practices of two or more eligible providers. When the maximum value modifier penalty of four percent is combined with the two percent PQRS reporting penalty it creates a hefty financial incentive for reporting and improving performance in this new federal quality system. Practices that wish to use the PQRS Group Practice Reporting Option (GPRO), must declare their intent to CMS by June 30, 2015. 

WHA is creating a strategic partnership with the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) to create a new corporation that will focus on physician quality reporting. The new corporation will specialize in assisting physician practices and hospitals with meeting the PQRS reporting requirements. The data technology to support this compliance reporting and physician practice transformation was developed by WCHQ and has been used by their members for the past seven years. 

“The new joint venture will provide a reliable, convenient and proven way to meet requirements for the federally-mandated PQRS reporting, including the GPRO option,” said Kelly Court, WHA chief quality officer. “This same data can be leveraged to spur ongoing improvement work.” 

WHA and WCHQ are committed to leveraging their joint experience in data reporting and quality improvement to provide a clear choice for reporting PQRS data in Wisconsin and beyond, according to Court. 

“WCHQ has been an important and strategic partner for WHA and many of our members since its inception. Together, we’re committed to helping our industry leverage quality data to improve the value we deliver to patients, payers and the communities we serve,” said WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding.

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WHN Newsmaker Lunch to Feature Medical College of Wisconsin Deans

Wisconsin Health News will host a “Newsmaker” event March 3 with Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)-Green Bay Dean Matthew Hunsaker, MD, and MCW-Central Wisconsin Dean Lisa Grill Dodson, MD. The Wisconsin Hospital Association is one of several organizations sponsoring the 2015 newsmaker events with Wisconsin Health News.

Hunsaker oversees the Medical College of Wisconsin’s community medical education program in Green Bay, which is set to welcome its first students in July 2015. Dodson oversees MCW’s central Wisconsin campus, which is scheduled to start taking students in 2016.

This Green Bay event will be held Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Conversation begins at 12:15 p.m.) at St. Norbert College – Gehl-Mulva Science Center, 110 Grant St., DePere, WI 54115. The cost is $30 for Wisconsin Health News subscribers and $40 for non-subscribers.

For more information and to register, go to http://wisconsinhealthnews.com/events.

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Wisconsin is Ahead of the Curve in Health Care Transparency 
February is “Wise Consumer Month”


The health care landscape is changing for consumers. Higher deductibles and co-pays are creating a demand for information related to quality and price. In Wisconsin, hospitals and health systems knew this day would come and started preparing for it nearly a decade ago when the first voluntary public reporting system on hospital quality was launched in 2004 with the release of www.WiCheckPoint.org. CheckPoint has 80 measures related to hospital quality and safety. In 2014, WHA added a new three-star rating system to the site that makes is easier to understand quality data. That information can then be shared with health care providers to help facilitate a dialogue about the patient’s care.

Wisconsin consumers can also find information related to price on the WHA Information Center website, www.WiPricePoint.org. Now in its ninth year of service, PricePoint provides facility-specific charges and financial data related to care provided by all Wisconsin hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and urgent care facilities owned by hospitals. For example, visitors to the website can compare the prices of non-emergency care at an urgent care center vs. an emergency department, compare prices between hospitals for services such as colonoscopies, MRIs and maternity care, and generate a worksheet that helps calculate the consumer’s payment responsibility.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association and WHA Information Center are continuously adding new data to the two websites to connect people to the information they need to become better informed health care consumers.

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