State Rep. Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) recently introduced legislation to provide additional funding to the Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program (WRPRAP). The bill, introduced as Assembly Bill 797, would provide $250,000 in general fund dollars in addition to funding already allocated to WRPRAP from the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Assessment.
Currently, the CAH Assessment funds an annual appropriation to WRPRAP of $750,000. The additional funding would only be provided for one fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2016.
During the 2013-15 biennial budget, Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature made an unprecedented state commitment to graduate medical education (GME) funding. The budget included a WHA-led initiative to invest $5 million in additional GME training opportunities. This example of a partnership between the State of Wisconsin and WHA member hospitals has led to impressive results. In a little more than two years, the program has already provided funding to establish seven new residency programs serving 34 Wisconsin counties and training 73 new physicians.
The authors of AB 797 said the $250,000 in one-time funding would provide more opportunities for physicians to train in rural communities, especially in specialties of need like obstetrics and gynecology. Reps. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls), Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) and Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) are also lead sponsors of the bill.
WHA has registered in support of the legislation. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Mining and Rural Development and awaits a public hearing in that Committee.
For more information on The Rural Wisconsin Initiative, go to http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/republicans/ruralwisconsininitiative