The Wisconsin Hospital Association and leaders from hospitals and health systems from across the state traveled to Washington, D.C. May 8 to visit with Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation. The theme of the day was regulatory relief for hospitals and health systems. Among the key issues discussed were the 340B drug discount program, the opioid relief packages making their way through Congress and Stark Law relief.
WHA’s new Director of Federal and State Relations, Jon Hoelter, organized an effective trip to Capitol Hill that saw WHA staff and members engaging in substantive and productive conversations.
“This was a great opportunity to let our leaders in Washington know how regulatory barriers can get in the way of advancements that hospitals and health systems stand ready to implement,” said WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. “It was great to hear that we have willing partners in Congress who agree that we need to reduce the number of resources devoted to regulatory compliance so our hospitals can focus on what they do best, providing the best quality care to patients.”
Among the highlights of the trip were meetings with U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Mike Gallagher, who have both been strong supporters of reversing the cuts to the 340B prescription drug discount program. With some members of Congress issuing calls for more program transparency, WHA explained the importance of ensuring that any calls for transparency do not add to the already complex regulatory burden. Jerry Worrick, president/CEO, Door County Medical Center, and David Lally, director of business development for HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, gave examples of how savings from the 340B program help stretch scarce federal resources in order to fund other essential services like free dental clinics and remote pharmacy dispensing sites.
WHA and its members also met with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who shared her personal story about her late mother’s battle with opioids and how it has helped her relate to the many stories she has heard from people all over Wisconsin. John Russell, president/CEO, Columbus Community Hospital, spoke about their advanced drug tapering program that reduces the likelihood of someone being sent home with more pain medications than they need. WHA also shared examples of proposals going through the House and Senate that would make it easier for medical records to share patient history of substance use treatment, remove the prohibition on Medicaid reimbursing sites with 16 or more treatment beds, and removing arcane restrictions that prevent Medicare from reimbursing for telehealth.
The trip concluded with a visit with Sen. Ron Johnson who voiced his support for examining outdated regulations like the Stark Law that is preventing some hospitals and systems from embracing new value-based payment reforms due to the fear that providers might be exposed to millions of dollars in repayments and penalties even for unintentional violations of the law.
“We appreciate Sen. Johnson’s willingness to work with our members on reviewing this outdated law so we can get government out of the way and allow us to continue our reputation as a national leader in health care quality,” concluded Borgerding.