February 5, 2016
Volume 60, Issue 5

Bipartisan WHA Mental Health Bill Approved by Joint Finance Committee
Legislation receives unanimous support by state’s budget committee

Legislation authorizing over $2 million in investments to improve outcomes for individuals with mental illness in Wisconsin’s Medicaid program received unanimous approval by the state Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee February 4. The bill previously passed the Senate in October 2015 and the Assembly Committee on Mental Health Reform in December 2015 with unanimous, bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 293, authored by a bipartisan group of four state lawmakers and co-sponsored by nearly 70 other legislators, would provide 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. The bill is a product of recommendations from WHA’s 2014 Medicaid Work Group.

The bill creates two competitive Medicaid pilot programs to be developed and administered by the Department of Health Services (DHS). One focuses on testing an additional care coordination payment for integrated health systems that focus on providing and coordinating the mental and physical health care of individuals with significant and chronic mental illness. The other focuses on extending psychiatric services into primary care by providing additional funds to incentivize the use of psychiatric consult models currently not reimbursed by Medicaid. Organizations seeking to participate in either of the competitive pilots will need to apply to DHS. 

The bill also seeks to reduce emergency room 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 emergency room staff to more quickly identify which hospitals have an available and appropriate psychiatric bed at a given time.

The bill is expected to be taken up by the full state Assembly in the next two weeks. After receiving approval by the Assembly, the bill will be sent to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.

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WHA Advocacy Day 8 Weeks Away–Register Today 
Top 10 reasons to attend

The Wisconsin Hospital Association’s premier event, Advocacy Day, is coming up on March 30. We’re still eight weeks away with 400 registrations already, but time will go by quickly. Make sure you are assembling your hospital groups now and join us for this important event. We had record-breaking numbers last year—1,100!—and we anticipate a great turnout again. If you’re wondering about Advocacy Day, take a look at our “Top 10” list of reasons to attend:

10. Chance to win prizes! If you register before March 4, we will enter you into a drawing. Plus, don’t forget our luncheon centerpiece giveaways. 
9. Have Fun. This is a day where hospital supporters travel together, gather together, learn together and advocate together! 
8. Network. You’ll be able to see 1,000 colleagues, peers and hospital supporters from all across the state.
7. Learn. Learn about what’s happening both nationally and in Wisconsin, and what that means to Wisconsin hospitals and health systems. 
6. See Who Wins. Who, you wonder, will receive our Legislator of the Year and the hospital Advocacy All-Star awards? We’re not telling…you’ll have to be there to find out!
5. Listen to the Legislative Leadership Panel. You’ll be able to listen to our bipartisan panel of legislative leaders.
4. Hear Great Speakers. Our keynote speaker this year is American Hospital Association President Rick Pollack, and Gov. Scott Walker (invited) will keynote the luncheon.
3. Show A Visible, Strong Hospital Presence. When 1,000 hospital supporters come to Madison, it makes a statement and demonstrates that we won’t sit idly by as public policy is being developed. 
2. Meet With Legislators! The afternoon’s meetings with legislators or their staffs are the most important part of the day. These meetings lead to tangible, positive outcomes! Don’t miss out. 
1. Make An Impact. By joining together at Advocacy Day, we help keep Wisconsin’s high-value, high- quality health care system strong.

Full event details and registration available 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 Jenna Hanson at jenna.hanson@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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Feb. 25 WHA Webinar Focuses on Leader’s Role in Tackling Opioid Abuse

Wisconsin hospitals have an important role in addressing the growing public health issue of the misuse and abuse of opioids. In December 2015, the WHA Board of Directors passed a resolution encouraging hospitals to develop specific strategies to address it while creating a culture of change responsive to this growing epidemic. To support the efforts of WHA members, WHA is offering a series of webinars in 2016 to assist hospital leaders.

This first, complimentary WHA Member Forum webinar, scheduled February 25, will focus on the importance of hospital leaders vocalizing the gravity of this issue and leading the culture change among their prescribers to examine their own prescribing habits. Participants will hear Peter Holden, president/CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth, Massachusetts, share his experience in addressing the issue and culture change within his own organization. In addition, this webinar will include information on WHA’s efforts to assist hospital leaders with tackling this issue and resources and next steps WHA will take.

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/HospitalLeaderRole-Opioids. For more information, contact Jennifer Frank at jfrank@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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House Holds Hearing on Prescription Drug Price Hikes

As reported in AHA News Now, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met February 4 and examined the recent surge in prices for certain drugs. Witnesses at the hearing included officials from the Food and Drug Administration; Pharmaceutical Care Management Association; and Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, companies that have sharply increased prices on their drugs. In an AHASTAT blog post, Ashley Thompson, senior vice president for public policy analysis and development, noted, “Hospitals’ top priority is providing patients with safe and effective care, but the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals can make doing so difficult. The high cost of prescription drugs leads to higher out-of-pocket costs for patients, who then may not be able to afford their medications. This may cause them to require further health care interventions—interventions that would have been avoidable if they had been able to take the original prescription.”

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Whole House Safety Huddles Expert Presents for WHA
WHA sponsors “Essential Safety Practices” webinar series

The WHA Partners for Patients program is committed to helping Wisconsin hospitals in their quality improvement activities. This year, WHA is emphasizing seven “Essential Safety Practices” that have a profound impact on patient safety and quality outcomes. Daily facilitation by hospital top executives of well-organized, meaningful daily whole-house safety huddles, have been wildly identified as one of these essential practices. 

To bring expert level knowledge, WHA invited Mary Cooper, MD, JD, vice president and chief quality officer at the Connecticut Hospital Association to speak on the topic in a January 28 webinar. In the presentation, Cooper provided guidance on how best to facilitate daily whole house safety huddles while avoiding common pitfalls. She also explained how daily whole house huddles are essential for high reliability organizations. In her message, Cooper explained that daily huddles should be quick, 15-minute stand up meetings in which all department leaders report on three key questions:

1. What safety issues happened the last 24 hours?
2. What safety issues do you anticipate the next 24 hours?
3. What other issues are you worried about?

Cooper provided suggestions on potential obstacles to avoid, such as: discussions on efficiency and throughput, in-depth problem solving and human resource-related discussions. Although all valuable in the correct context, Cooper emphasized that it is important to spend the daily safety huddle time to identify recent and potential safety issues. Once identified, further analysis and improvement is completed through the proper channels. 

“We were very fortunate to have had such an experienced speaker on whole house safety huddles,” said WHA Chief Quality Officer Kelly Court. “Dr. Cooper has been able to spread this practice throughout her home state of Connecticut. This is certainly a practice that WHA is strongly encouraging Wisconsin hospitals to adopt.”

For more information, contact Tom Kaster, WHA improvement advisor, at tkaster@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

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After a Slow Start, Flu Cases Are Increasing in Wisconsin
Health officials say it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine

The influenza season got off to a slow start in Wisconsin in 2015, but officials with the Department of Health Services (DHS) have noticed an increase in cases in the first weeks of 2016, and want to remind state residents that it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine and take other actions to avoid illness.

“We suspect with the late start of the season some people may have delayed getting vaccinated against the flu, but with cases on the rise, it’s very important to get vaccinated now,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. “This is important for everyone, including young and middle-aged adults, since health officials nationwide are reporting severe respiratory illnesses and even deaths among this age group.”

The flu vaccine is safe and effective for everyone six months old and older, and is especially important for people who are 65 years old and older, young children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Health officials also encourage people who feel they may be getting the flu to contact their health care provider regarding the need for an anti-viral medication. Anti-viral medication is most effective if taken within 48 hours of the first signs of symptoms.

WHA posts detailed weekly surveillance updates of particular interest to caregivers from Jon Temte, MD, PhD, at www.wha.org/weekly-influenza-update.aspx.

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CDC Releases New Zika Guidance Today; WHA Updates Resource Page

CDC issued new interim guidance February 5 on preventing sexual transmission of Zika virus after confirming through laboratory testing, in collaboration with Dallas County Health and Human Services, the first case of Zika virus infection in a non-traveler in the continental United States during this outbreak. See it here.

Although sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is possible, mosquito bites remain the primary way that Zika virus is transmitted. Because there currently is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites.

Based on what we know now, CDC is issuing interim recommendations to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus. To date, there have been no reports of sexual transmission of Zika virus from infected women to their sex partners. CDC expects to update its interim guidance as new information becomes available.

To help our members respond to requests for information, WHA has dedicated a page to Zika in its emergency preparedness resources at WHA.org. Among the resources posted there is a PowerPoint presentation created by Jon Temte, MD, PhD, that health care professionals will find helpful. Temte is a professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and he serves on the U. S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. 

WHA is actively monitoring the media and posting links on the resource page to outside news sources that we believe will be helpful in keeping our members informed on this emerging public health issue.

The Wisconsin Department of Health also has a resource page.

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