WHA in DC, Focus on Rural Hospitals

February 10, 2017

On February 8, the Wisconsin Hospital Association joined the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative and over a dozen Wisconsin rural health care leaders in Washington, DC to participate in a day on Capitol Hill highlighting the importance of rural health care.

Multiple hospital leaders discussed protecting the 340B program for small, rural critical access hospitals (CAHs). 

Under language in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), CAHs were allowed to access the 340B program and obtain discounts on pharmaceuticals. Hospital leaders told legislators about how these drug savings were used to provide important pharmaceuticals and services to patients. These leaders urged Congress not to inadvertently harm the program under any changes to the ACA. 

“One of the programs that allows us to maximize our resources and put them to use broadly on behalf of our patients is the ‘340B’ program,” said Dan DeGroot, chief operating officer at HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls. DeGroot said his hospital is able to use these savings to help provide telehealth remote dispensing locations across six communities without pharmacy access. 

Jennifer Collins, a second-year University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health/WARM student (Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine), talked with legislators about her desire to practice family medicine in a rural setting in Wisconsin. She and her husband have two children, and she stressed she does not want to move her family out of state for her residency. Her story allowed the group to further discuss workforce issues in Wisconsin, the importance of GME slots as well as fixing the “legacy” cap issue for several Wisconsin hospitals. 

When discussing the ACA and Congressional activities surrounding any repeal or replace legislation, hospital leaders urged legislators to ensure equity in Medicaid funding for Wisconsin. Further, they asked legislators to keep rural health care facilities in mind when considering such large-scale health policy changes so these changes do not inadvertently harm rural health care and rural hospitals.

Other issues discussed included fixing the 96-hour rule, addressing share use/mixed use space, direct supervision and additional problematic regulatory issues. 

This story originally appeared in the February 10, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter