June 19, 2015
Volume 59, Issue 24


Survey Finds WHA Delivers on Members’ Expectations for Advocacy, Clout

A recent news story referred to WHA as a “heavyweight” in the advocacy arena. It is a position that WHA has worked very hard to earn, but more importantly, it is exactly what our members expect from their Association. 

In the recently-completed membership satisfaction survey, WHA members enumerated and rank-ordered what they expect for their membership dollars. No surprise: Three-fourths of the members ranked “advocacy” as the number one expected benefit, and 100 percent said WHA did it “extremely well/well.” Members also ranked WHA’s political clout extremely high. 

“The survey results reinforce WHA’s commitment to representing our members’ interests in the State Capitol and Washington, D.C., and with regulatory and state agencies,” according to WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. “The results also indicate that our team is doing an outstanding job meeting and delivering on our members’ expectations.”

At a time when the health care landscape is in upheaval, it was reassuring to learn the second most highly-ranked benefit that members expect is networking and consensus-building. In written comments, members indicated they expect WHA to serve as a platform for building statewide consensus to solve common problems and to foster and support best practices. Networking with colleagues was also noted as an important Association benefit. Again, WHA scored well with 96 percent of the respondents saying WHA does this extremely well/well.

The quality of the WHA staff was a factor in members’ very positive rating on the Association’s ability to meet their third expected benefit of membership, which was providing information and sharing expertise. The members praised WHA staff for their ability to understand emerging health care issues and develop proactive responses. 

Among their top expected benefits, WHA members also listed education, public relations and legislative information. When asked to rate WHA’s overall performance, 98 percent of the members placed it at excellent/good. 

WHA Board Chair Therese Pandl was pleased with the results and encouraged by the high level of member engagement. 

The feedback confirms WHA priorities are aligned with member expectations and we are meeting our goals,” Pandl said. “While the results are very encouraging and affirming that we are all moving in the same direction, at the same time, we know we can always do better.”

Borgerding said he is pleased WHA is meeting its core mission of advocating for and representing the interests of its members. 

“The level of satisfaction among our members with WHA’s performance would not be possible without the excellent participation of our voluntary leaders on our Board, councils and task forces,” according to Borgerding. “The key to our future success is to anticipate the issues that will shape the health care landscape in Wisconsin and use our members’ experience with our staff expertise to develop sound policies that will keep Wisconsin health care ‘ahead of the curve.’”


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Webinar Series Focused on Advanced Practice Clinician Hospitalist Programs - Register Today!

This three-part, complimentary WHA Member Forum webinar series will address the use of advanced practice clinicians in hospitalist programs in Wisconsin hospitals and will examine and discuss a variety of practical and legal issues that must be considered when implementing such a program.

There is no fee for WHA hospital and corporate members to participate, but pre-registration is required. 

More information and online registration are available at: http://events.signUp4.net/2015APHospWebSeries

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Good and Bad in CMS’s Proposed Modifications to Meaningful Use Program
WHA concerned CMS is abandoning staged approach to MU


On June 15, WHA submitted comments on a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed rule to modify the electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use program in years 2015 through 2017, recommending that the federal agency finalize only those provisions that support high-quality, low-cost health care.

“Wisconsin hospitals and health care systems have made their investments in EHR technology and other HIT as a means to enable the provision of higher-quality and lower-cost health care to citizens in Wisconsin,” wrote WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. “While WHA is encouraged by portions of the proposed rule that provide some flexibility for hospitals and physicians to meet certain challenging program requirements, we are concerned that other portions of the rule may make program success unnecessarily difficult and undermine program goals of using EHR technology to support higher-quality, lower-cost, and patient-centered health care.”

Among the proposals in the rule WHA urged CMS to finalize include the proposal to shorten the 2015 reporting period from the full year for most providers to 90 days for all providers. WHA believes shortening the 2015 reporting period will allow more hospitals and physicians to avoid significant Medicare penalties. In addition, WHA urged CMS to finalize two proposals to make the patient portal and physician secure electronic messaging requirements more reasonable in 2015 through 2017. These reporting requirements are controversial because they put program success largely outside of providers’ control and disregard patient preference for health care engagement. First, CMS is proposing to modify the Stage 2 provider requirement that five percent of patients access the patient portal and instead require only one patient to do so. Second, CMS proposes modifying the Stage 2 physician requirement to send a secure message electronically to five percent of patients, instead requiring that the capability to send and receive a secure electronic message is fully enabled.

At the same time, WHA told CMS that certain proposals in the rule to modify the meaningful use program in years 2015 through 2017 are infeasible, unrealistic and not based on program experience. WHA is most concerned with the proposal to require all providers, regardless of currently scheduled meaningful use stage, to attest to the same set of heightened objectives and measures beginning in 2015. Among other things, this proposal would make electronic prescribing a requirement for all hospitals starting in 2015, with some hospitals qualifying for an exception for 2015 only.

“From the outset of the meaningful use program, CMS sensibly has taken a tiered or staged approach to meaningful use, recognizing that adoption of EHRs is challenging and not all functionality can be adopted by all providers at the same time,” states Borgerding. “This program approach supported safe and orderly transitions to more demanding reporting mandates, allowed providers to focus on implementing use of EHR technology in a way that met clinical needs, and let providers spread the enormous costs of new EHR technology and ongoing staffing and workflow adjustments over a longer period of time.” Unfortunately, the proposed rule deviates from previous CMS program methodology to take a staged approach to meaningful use.

This comment letter follows a late May comment letter WHA submitted regarding CMS’s proposals for Stage 3 of meaningful use. If you have questions on the proposed rule or other meaningful use or EHR issues, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, abrenton@wha.org, or Matthew Stanford, WHA general counsel, mstanford@wha.org, or 608-274-1820.

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WHA Webinar Focuses on Revenue Cycle Action Items for ICD-10 Implementation

The ICD-10 implementation date of October 1, 2015 is quickly approaching. Is your organization’s ICD-10 team working to complete the right action items between now and the October deadline? 

On July 15, WHA is hosting the webinar “ICD-10 Changes Everything in the Revenue Cycle.” During this webinar, Day Egusquiza, president of AR Systems, Inc. and one of the leading national experts on health care coding and reimbursement, will guide your staff through the key steps necessary to not only transition to ICD-10, but to also successfully navigate beyond the implementation period. 

Egusquiza will lead a meaningful discussion on revenue cycle action items and at-risk issues that must be on your radar prior to ICD-10 implementation. She will focus on all payer issues, increased staff interventions, IT issues, submission issues post go-live, testing challenges and internal changes including education ideas for physician office staff. 

Business office leaders, revenue cycle staff, compliance staff, HIM leaders, IT staff, physician office leaders, staff and coders should attend this important webinar. Full information and online registration are available at http://events.SignUp4.net/2015MayJuneWebinar.

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HHS Designates University of MN Med Center as Ebola Treatment Center
UMN Med Ctr. will treat patients from WI, MN, IL Ohio, MI, IN


The University of Minnesota Medical Center will serve as the regional treatment center for patients with Ebola or other severe, highly infectious diseases for patients from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana if local facilities can’t provide sufficient care.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) selected nine health departments and associated partner hospitals to become special regional treatment centers. The facilities will be continuously ready and available to care for a patient with Ebola or another severe, highly infectious disease, whether the patient is medically evacuated from overseas or is diagnosed within the U.S.

The eight other awardees and their partner hospitals are:

The regional facilities are part of a national network of 55 Ebola treatment centers, but will have enhanced capabilities to treat a patient with confirmed Ebola or other highly infectious disease. Even with the establishment of the nine regional facilities, the other 46 Ebola treatment centers and their associated health departments will remain ready and may be called upon to handle one or more simultaneous clusters of patients. Wisconsin has three Ebola treatment centers, which are University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, Madison; Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and Froedtert Health, Milwaukee. 

The facilities selected to serve as regional Ebola treatment centers will be required to: To be eligible for consideration as an Ebola and other special pathogen treatment center, facilities also had to be assessed by a Rapid Ebola Preparedness team led by the CDC prior to February 20, 2015.

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Nearly 1,500 Wisconsin Hospital ER Visits Related to Burns

The American Burn Association says that 44 percent of all admissions to burn centers are the result of injuries due to fire or flame burns (http://burninjuryguide.com/burn-statistics).

According to the WHA Information Center (WHAIC), in 2014 there were 285 inpatient admissions, 733 hospital outpatient visits and 1,439 ER visits related to accidental injury related to flames or fire. The average inpatient charge in Wisconsin is $100,240 for an admission due to accidental injury due to flame or fire, per the WHAIC. 

Enjoy the summer, but be careful around campfires, grills and fireworks. 

Data provided by the WHAIC (www.whainfocenter.com)

The WHA Information Center 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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