July 17, 2015
Volume 59, Issue 28

Walker Signs Two-Year Budget into Law, Vetoes 104 Provisions
Permanent Medicaid DSH program receives final approval from Gov. Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law the biennial budget bill July 12, spending nearly $73 billion and funding state government for another two years. The budget includes several key priorities for the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA), including nearly $650 million in additional state resources to fund the cost-to-continue in the state Medicaid program and an authorization of a permanent Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program. 

“Establishing an ongoing Disproportionate Share Hospital program has been WHA’s number one priority and chief accomplishment in this budget cycle,” said WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. 

The DSH program, which is funded partially by the state and partially by the federal government, will provide nearly $72 million to hospitals over the next two-year budget period as relief to those that serve a higher number of Medicaid patients and are experiencing issues with exchange enrollment. As the Governor and his agencies develop the budget for 2017-19, the DSH program will now be considered a “base” budget item and will automatically be incorporated into the Medicaid program’s cost-to-continue for the next biennial budget.

After the exchange enrollment period in 2014, only 54 percent of those individuals above the poverty line that were previously covered by Medicaid had actually enrolled in exchange coverage, impacting almost every county in the state. Nearly 100 hospitals throughout Wisconsin, including rural critical access hospitals, receive Medicaid DSH funds to help mitigate the impact of this transition in coverage.

“WHA’s government relations team put together a comprehensive advocacy strategy that included lobbying in the state capitol and an aggressive advocacy campaign. This priority would not have been accomplished without a months-long, statewide grassroots effort with our member hospitals and health systems,” said Borgerding. “We applaud the work of not only those on the Finance Committee who voted to include a permanent DSH program in the budget, but dozens of members of the Assembly and Senate that supported a permanent DSH program from day one.”

Wisconsin’s Governor has significant authority to veto specific provisions from the budget bill, often referred to as a “line-item” veto. Walker used that authority 104 times during this budget, nearly twice as many times as the last budget.

The Governor did veto a provision in the bill that WHA was able to include as part of the Joint Finance Committee budget that required legislative oversight over changes to the state employee health insurance program. In light of the Governor’s veto, WHA has reengaged with state lawmakers about potential options to ensure that decisions impacting the state employee health insurance program have proper oversight and accountability. 

The Governor’s final version of the budget includes provisions that WHA worked on along with many hospital members and other coalition partners, including: a provision protecting critical access hospital assessment funding for rural physician training, recruitment and retention; a delay in reimbursement cuts to federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) and a requirement that FQHCs be consulted prior to changing reimbursement methodologies; stopping a proposed shift of the Worker’s Compensation program from the Department of Workforce Development to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance; and finally, important additions and changes to emergency detention procedures, including a clarification that crisis assessments can be conducted telephonically.

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WHA Education: July 22 Webinar Focuses on Proposed FLSA Overtime Rules

Nearly every employer in the nation will be affected by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed revisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime exemptions, which were recently released. On July 22, WHA is offering a webinar titled “Working on Overtime: What Will New FLSA Rules Mean for Employers?” Led by two of the leading human resources attorneys in the country, this webinar will discuss the proposed revisions to the FLSA overtime exemptions, how the salary test may change, what may happen to the duties test, and how health care organizations may be impacted. 

With these proposals being some of the most significant changes to workforce in nearly 50 years, WHA is pleased to have Tammy McCutchen, former administrator of the wage and hour division for DOL and the author of the FSLA white collar exemptions when they were last revised in 2004, and Michael Lotito, co-chair of the Littler Workplace Policy Institute®, leading this webinar.

Again, this webinar will be offered on July 22 from 1:30-3:00 pm CST. More information and online registration are available at http://events.SignUp4.net/DOLOTExemptions0722.

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Webinar Focuses on Legal Landscape Surrounding AP Hospitalist Programs

WHA, in partnership with WHA corporate member Quarles & Brady, LLP, is offering a three-part webinar series focused on the use of advanced practice clinicians (APCs) in hospitalist programs in Wisconsin hospitals. The first session, offered August 5, will focus on the various legal parameters relevant to an APC hospitalist program and challenges hospitals face when considering use of APCs as hospitalists. It will include the interplay between state and federal hospital regulations, the scope of practice laws, reimbursement requirements and relevant accreditation.

There is no fee for WHA hospital and corporate members to participate, but pre-registration is required. This WHA Member Forum webinar series is intended for and limited to staff of WHA hospital and WHA corporate members only, as a membership benefit.

A brochure is included in this week’s packet, which describes each of the three sessions more completely. Online registration is also available at http://events.SignUp4.net/2015APHospWebSeries.

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Workshop for Hospital Foundations Focuses on Building Pipeline of Donors
Complimentary workshop offered August 20

Hospital foundation directors, staff, board members and hospital executives are invited to attend “Prescription for Success: A Workshop for Hospital Foundations” on August 20 in Neenah. This annual workshop is available at no cost to hospital and hospital foundation staff due to the partnership and support of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health (WORH), the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative. However, pre-registration is required.

This year’s workshop will take a deeper dive into annual giving, major gifts giving and planned giving, with a focus on strategies to move donors along the continuum of giving.

The Hospital Foundation Workshop will be held Thursday, August 20, at Riverwalk Hotel in Neenah. A full agenda and online registration are available at http://events.SignUp4.net/Foundation15.

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Member News: SSM Health Names Jelle St. Clare Hospital President 

SSM Health named Laura Jelle as the new president of St. Clare Hospital, Baraboo effective July 13. Jelle replaces Sandy Anderson who left St. Clare earlier this month. 

In her new role as president, Jelle will lead hospital operations at St. Clare and will also partner with Damond Boatwright, regional president and CEO of hospital operations for SSM Health Care of Wisconsin, to grow and manage hospital services across the Baraboo region.

Jelle has served in numerous roles within St. Clare Hospital since 1995, including quality and risk management, operations and organizational effectiveness, and most recently, as executive vice president/COO. 

Jelle received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University before completing her graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin. She earned her PhD in healthcare administration in 1991. Jelle is active in numerous community and professional organizations.

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