WHA Board Approves 2019 Goals, Discusses Quality Initiatives, and Learns More About Upcoming Budget Session from Rep. Nygren

February 19, 2019

WHA’s new Board Chair, Damond Boatwright, SSM Health Care of Wisconsin’s Regional President of Operations, kicked off the first board meeting of 2019 by thanking his predecessor, Bob Van Meeteren, President of the Reedsburg Area Medical Center. Boatwright also expressed his thoughts on his new role as chair.

“We are guaranteed wonderful quality and great outcomes due to representation in our room—both WHA staff and the colleagues around this table,” said Boatwright. “I am humbled and honored to be in this seat today.”

Stephen F. Brenton Health Policy Scholar Award
The Board then welcomed guest Emily Hoffmann Capodarco, who is the 2018 Stephen F. Brenton Health Policy Scholar Award recipient. The endowed $8,000/year scholarship was created by WHA, in conjunction with the UW Foundation, to honor former WHA President and CEO Steve Brenton by helping prepare the next generation of Wisconsin health care leaders. Hoffmann Capodarco is double majoring in law and public affairs at UW-Madison. She said she is drawn to the dual track of policy and law because it is fascinating to look at the health care industry from both sides.  

Hoffmann Capodarco thanked WHA and the Board for its support, noting that both her parents were physicians, so she appreciates how health care plays a crucial role in the community. 

“We respect and care for our communities. Health is interrelated to all other aspects of life—it’s a crucial foundation and springboard for everything else in our lives,” said Hoffmann Capodarco.

WHA Identifies 2019 Goals and Priorities
As part of the President’s Report, Borgerding shared a comprehensive list of strategic goals for WHA and the WHA Information Center in 2019, which build upon the success and progress WHA achieved in 2018.

“Our 2019 agenda is typically robust, informed by the board and our members and capitalizes on the talent and knowledge our excellent team brings to the table,” Borgerding said. “Our annual goals focus on perennial priorities while also evolving with the dynamic health care environment. We are guided by member needs and priorities, and in doing so, WHA continues to expand its scope, relevance and impact. Developing, and then achieving, our agenda is what makes WHA one of Wisconsin’s most impactful advocacy organizations while consistently delivering value to our members.”       

Key areas covered in WHA’s 2019 goals include:
  • Medicaid funding, reimbursement and access to services;
  • Coverage expansion and insurance market stability;
  • Reforming and improving behavioral health;
  • Expanding engagement with WHA member physician leaders;
  • Health care workforce - growth and regulatory reform;
  • Clinical performance improvement;
  • Telemedicine services;
  • Post-Acute Care ;
  • Dental Access;
  • Health IT and Emerging Technologies; and,
  • Information, Analytics and Transparency.

Boatwright observed, “WHA’s consistent framework is tried and true.  It is enhanced with more physician engagement, is more comprehensive and robust, and is updated to reflect key issues.”

Senior Vice President of Finance and COO Brian Potter wrapped up the President’s Report by presenting 2018’s year-end financials.  WHA has strong, stable finances and diversified revenue streams, which keep member dues low.

State Advocacy Report
Borgerding then led an engaged discussion about the upcoming state legislative session, including Medicaid expansion and the state budget.  Board members were briefed on the status of Medicaid today in Wisconsin, including current coverage, the projected $300 million funding surplus in the Medicaid program and the nearly $1.2 billion in unreimbursed hospital care that must be shifted to families and businesses. Borgerding said the debate over Medicaid expansion will revolve around money, including interest from those that want to spend hundreds of millions in Medicaid dollars on things that have nothing to do with health care, even as the program continues shifting costs to those with private insurance. Expanding and changing coverage for thousands of people who would become newly eligible for Medicaid will also be a focal point of the debate. Of the 76,000 people who would go onto Medicaid under expansion, it is estimated that 30,000 are uninsured.  Another 38,000 who currently have subsidized private insurance through the ACA marketplace and 8,000 who have insurance through their employer would be moved onto Medicaid.   

“Because of historically poor Medicaid reimbursement, cost-shifting and our already low uninsured rate and the fact that we have so many people in the expansion population already covered by private insurance, the discussion about Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin will be much different, more complicated, than it’s probably been in any other state,” Borgerding said. “Preserving Wisconsin’s coverage gains and finding ways to connect coverage to the roughly five percent of Wisconsinites that remain uninsured is a priority for WHA, and we look forward to working with policymakers to get there in a way that does not shift more costs to or increase insurance premiums for employers and families.” 

WHA Quality Improvement Initiatives
During the WHA Board Meeting, WHA Chief Quality Officer Beth Dibbert provided results from the past 26 months of quality improvement work with the Great Lakes Partners for Patients Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN). Since the beginning of the HIIN collaboration, hospitals have:

  • Reduced knee surgery site infections by 34%;
  • Reduced opioid-related adverse drug events by 31%; and,
  • Reduced ventilator-associated complications by 29%.
Dibbert also reported that more than 97% of HIIN hospitals are now including patients when staff have change-of-shift bedside reporting. 

“Engaging patients and families as an active part of the care team will be a focus of continued work for hospitals,” Dibbert said. “Effective communication is critical to healing, preventing unplanning readmissions, and overall patient and provider satisfaction.”

The Board was informed of the impending refresh of hospital overall star ratings on Hospital Compare, as well as the publication of the hospitals that will face penalties under CMS’ Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HAC) penalty program.  Wisconsin has traditionally out-performed most other states in these programs, and we predict this trend will continue.

State Representative John Nygren Shares State Budget Perspectives
Rep. John Nygren, Assembly Co-chair of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC), visited the WHA Board to share his viewpoints on Wisconsin’s upcoming budget session. In introducing Nygren, Borgerding noted that the representative has been an incredible partner of WHA, especially in the opioid, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital funding arenas.

Born in Marinette and a third generation (former) insurance agent, Rep. Nygren is well-versed in the health care industry and the issues that lie ahead in the next biennial budget. Rep. Nygren spoke to the overall financial health of the state, which is projecting to have nearly $2.4 billion in additional revenue for the 2019-21 biennium. 

While being co-chair of the JFC in split government is new to Nygren, the representative said he hopes for bipartisanship in the months ahead and spoke about several of his goals during the budget session.

“We have significantly reduced our uninsured rate in Wisconsin, which leads to a healthier state overall, and we must protect those coverage gains,” Nygren said. “It’s estimated that expanding Medicaid will reduce Wisconsin’s uninsured rate by less than one percent, so we have to weigh the benefit against the cost and other impacts. I will be focusing on keeping the insurance market stable and avoiding cost shifts to Wisconsin hospitals or the taxpayers as discussions about access and coverage ensue in the months ahead.”

Rep. Nygren commended WHA for utilizing effective advocacy strategies that make it easier to support hospital and health system initiatives. While some advocacy organizations only work with legislative leadership, Nygren said WHA keeps all legislators informed about the impact of proposed policies on patients, hospitals, and providers. He stated this “bottom-up” approach with his colleagues is a hallmark of WHA’s successful advocacy efforts over the years.

This story originally appeared in the February 19, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter