During the first week of the Legislature’s fall legislative floor period, both the Assembly and Senate acted upon several health care related bills—two of which have been key WHA-led initiatives.
On October 31, the state Senate was the first chamber of the Legislature to unanimously approve Senate Bill 417 ratifying the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact in Wisconsin. Since 2000, nurses in Wisconsin have been able to participate in an interstate licensing agreement that allows them to practice in Wisconsin and 24 other compact states under a single multi-state license. Over 112,000 nurses in Wisconsin currently enjoy the benefit of this multi-state license arrangement. To encourage more states to participate in this agreement, the compact was updated and quickly adopted by nearly all existing compact states. The new compact takes effect January 19, 2018 prior to the February licensure renewal period for all registered nurses in Wisconsin.
Senate Bill 417 was approved by the Assembly November 2, clearing the way for this bill to be sent to the desk of Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. The Governor has already publicly expressed his support for Senate Bill 417 by incorporating the legislation into his recently released “Rural Agenda.” WHA expects the bill to be signed into law in the coming weeks.
In testimony before the Assembly and Senate Health Committees on SB 417, Ann Zenk, WHA vice president, workforce and clinical practice, testified with Wisconsin’s Board of Nursing Chair Sheryl Krause in support of the legislation. At the Assembly Hearing, Steve McCarthy and Erica Brunkow of Southwest Health in Platteville joined Zenk and Krause to testify in favor of the bill.
A group of 97 bipartisan coauthors sponsored the bill, led by Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah).
The Assembly also unanimously approved Assembly Bill 529 November 2, legislation that clarifies a section of Wisconsin state law referencing the ability for providers to order services for Medicaid patients. The bill, which was drafted by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and is supported by WHA, provides better clarification to health care providers that Wisconsin’s Medicaid program recognizes orders made by physicians and non-physician providers alike. The bill does not change any provider’s scope of practice and maintains the already recognized Medicaid policy acknowledging valid orders made within a provider’s scope of practice under statutes, rules, and regulations governing the provider’s practice.
State Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) are the lead authors of Assembly Bill 529. The bill is expected to be approved by the state Senate early next week.
CNA Training, Community Paramedic Bills Move Forward
The Senate and Assembly both approved a variety of other health care related bills during action this week. One reduces the number of training hours required by Wisconsin’s DHS for a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to be credentialed in Wisconsin. Currently, CNAs are required to undergo 120 hours of training including 32 hours of clinical experience. Assembly Bill 432, which was approved by the Assembly November 2, would reduce the training requirement to no more than 75 hours with 16 hours of clinical training—mirroring the requirements in place in Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota. The bill passed on a party-line vote in the Assembly and will need action yet in the Senate before it moves to Gov. Walker for his approval.
The Senate also took final action on Assembly Bill 151, which provides DHS with the authority to approve non-emergency services by EMS providers, more commonly known as “community paramedics” or “mobile integrated health” providers. While the bill will authorize DHS to approve services that can be provided by a community paramedic program, it prohibits any community paramedic from duplicating services already available to the patient. Several WHA members have developed successful partnerships with local EMS providers to help serve patients with chronic illness in their community.
Assembly Bill 151, which already passed the Assembly in April, moves on to Gov. Walker for his review and approval.
For more information on any of these items, contact Kyle O’Brien, WHA senior vice president, government relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.