WHA Board Announces New At-Large Member, State Advocacy Efforts and Upcoming Capitol Hill Visits

April 09, 2019

WHA’s Board Chair, and SSM Health Care of Wisconsin’s Regional President of Operations, Damond Boatwright welcomed the Board to the spring edition of the 2019 meetings, noting that WHA’s advocacy efforts related to the State budget are underway.  

Eric Borgerding, WHA President and CEO, kicked off his President’s Report with a progress update on WHA’s 2019 goals.  He also announced a new Board member to fill an at-large vacancy and discussed upcoming Capitol Hill visits before leading a State budget advocacy discussion. 

2019 Goals  
At the close of the first quarter, WHA is making good progress and staff are on pace to meet their 2019 goals. Borgerding commented, “Like every year, issues emerge and WHA responds quickly and confidently to this dynamic, ever-changing environment.  In December, I anticipate that we will have accomplished most, if not all, of the items on our agenda—as well as those that have emerged throughout the year that took considerable staff time and effort.”

Borgerding will provide further progress updates at future meetings. 

New At-Large Board Member
The Board unanimously approved the nomination of Andy Bagnall, Division President and CEO of HSHS Western Wisconsin Division, to fill the At-Large member seat previously held by Charisse Oland of HSHS Western Division.  Oland stepped down from the Board when she moved from Wisconsin.  

Board members remarked Bagnall is a great candidate who is known for his leadership, accomplishments, and experience.  Among the nomination letters supporting Bagnall, Fort HealthCare President and CEO Mike Wallace said, “He is highly regarded and respected as both a health care professional and strategic partner.”

“We are fortunate to have such a strong candidate to take Charisse’s place.  His commitment, leadership and passion for the work of our member hospitals make Andy a terrific addition to the Board,” said Borgerding.

Bagnall will serve a three-year term.

Capitol Visits About Site-Neutral Reimbursement, Transparency and GME Funding
The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) annual meeting started April 8—and WHA is hitting Capitol Hill to meet with Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation about critical issues such as site neutral reimbursement, transparency and surprise billing, and workforce issues.  

“While site-neutral payment policies may sound good in theory, they ultimately increase the hidden health care tax by reducing hospital payments, which is why we support reversing the costs in CMS’ 2019 Outpatient Rule,” said Borgerding.

WHA also supports meaningful price transparency, and no patient should be faced with an unexpected medical bill. As Congress explores legislation to reduce surprise billing, WHA requests that Congress brings together stakeholders to work on these complex issues to identify best practices that can be replicated on a wider scale.  

Finally, WHA will be asking congressional leaders to lift federal Graduate Medical Education (GME) caps to help address Wisconsin’s projected physician shortage. 

“WHA has worked with the Wisconsin Legislature in a bipartisan fashion to help meet our workforce needs.  As our population ages, and physicians retire and move from provider to consumer, Wisconsin must find new ways to replenish our physician pipeline.  Federal GME caps are a barrier to growing our physician workforce, and we will be asking our Congressional delegation to support legislation that creates new residency slots,” said Borgerding.

Stoughton Hospital President and CEO Dan DeGroot, Columbus Community Hospital President and CEO John Russell, and North Central Health Care CEO Michael Loy are accompanying WHA to D.C. Watch next week’s newsletter to learn more about the trip.

State Advocacy Discussion
In late February, Governor Evers introduced a budget proposal that includes significant increases in hospital reimbursement, along with investments in several other WHA priorities including telemedicine, behavioral health care, enrollment outreach, and special needs dental care. 

Borgerding provided the Board with an overview of the budget proposal and discussed how WHA is working to bridge differences between a Democratic Governor and Republicans in the state Legislature, several of which have sent clear signs regarding their position against Medicaid expansion. 

“For months, WHA has expressed concerns with increasing Wisconsin’s Medicaid rolls without taking action to increase reimbursement rates. The Governor clearly heard and acted on these concerns,” said Borgerding. “WHA will continue to educate policymakers in the Legislature about the benefits of hospital reimbursement increases in the Governor’s budget, while still addressing hospital concerns with moving over 40,000 people from the private market to Medicaid if expansion moves forward.”  

According to Borgerding, WHA is coordinating testimony by hospital leaders at Joint Finance Committee hearings throughout the state in April, preparing for the Committee’s deliberation on the budget bill in the weeks ahead. Borgerding said the state is experiencing a $234 million surplus in the Medicaid program, providing the resources to still finance Medicaid reimbursement increases included in the Governor’s budget even if Medicaid expansion doesn’t move forward. 

WHBF Update
Lisa Ellinger, WHA’s Vice President of Public Policy, provided a status report on the Wisconsin Healthcare Business Forum (WHBF). The WHBF is a partnership of WHA and the Wisconsin Technology Council, which was formalized in December 2018. The mission of the WHBF is focused on promoting a pro-healthcare business agenda and connecting healthcare leaders to Wisconsin’s growing health technology sector. Ellinger highlighted recent events and media coverage of the WHBF, as well as the statewide focus for future efforts. She noted that 2019 priorities include educational events and media outreach to promote the WHBF and the positive economic impact of health care on the Wisconsin economy. If you have any questions about the WHBF, contact Lisa Ellinger.

Engaging with Physician Leaders
WHA Chief Medical Officer Mark Kaufman, MD, provided the Board with an update of WHA’s physician engagement efforts so far this year. Dr. Kaufman presented a summary of what he learned from more than 35 one-to-one conversations with Physician Leaders Council (PLC) members, WHA Board members, and other physician leaders from WHA member organizations. The purpose of these conversations was to better understand how WHA can create additional value in the physician space.

Some common themes emerged from these conversations. Many see an important role for WHA in physician leader development and as a convener of physician leaders to facilitate peer learning and the sharing of best practices. There is enthusiasm for a data sharing and learning collaborative centered on physician engagement. At the same time, WHA needs to continue its advocacy efforts related to growing the physician workforce, reducing the regulatory burden on physicians, and maintaining Wisconsin’s fair and balanced medical malpractice environment.

Dr. Kaufman also updated the Board on the WHA Physician Leadership Development Conference in Kohler:

  • More than 200 attended the Kohler conference
  • 75 physicians participated in the new Senior Physician Leadership Track
  • Stephen Beeson, MD, led an all-Friday session on engaging physicians 
  • Other notable speakers included Michael Guthrie, MD; Alan Kaplan, MD, CEO of UW Health; Steven Kulick, MD, Chief Experience Officer at Marshfield Clinic; and Eric Borgerding, President and CEO of WHA

This story originally appeared in the April 09, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter