The Wisconsin Hospital Association was pleased to assist Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) with visits to four hospitals in his Congressional district last week. On April 23, the Congressman started his day at SSM Health Waupun Memorial Hospital. Staff led him on a tour of various parts of the hospital, including their locked unit that serves Wisconsin Department of Corrections inmates. Waupun’s President and Chief Nursing Officer DeAnn Thurmer also spoke of the importance of the federal 340B prescription drug discount program, particularly for small critical access hospitals like Waupun that cannot count on high patient admissions to offset losses under Medicare and Medicaid.
Later that day, Congressman Grothman traveled to Beaver Dam Community Hospital for a tour led by Chief Administrative Officer Joe Gilene. There, Grothman toured the hospital’s hyperbaric oxygen wound care center, which helps wound victims recover faster. It is one of only a small number of hospitals in Wisconsin to offer such services and even brings in patients from Madison to receive services in Beaver Dam. Gilene also spoke of Beaver Dam’s devotion to improving population health, including its participation in the Blue Zones Project in Dodge County that is focused on helping people in the community make healthier choices, starting with serving more nutritious foods in the hospital’s cafeteria, which was recently Blue Zone certified.
On April 25, Congressman Grothman participated in a WHA roundtable hosted by Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh. Aurora Medical Center Oshkosh President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Newman kicked off the roundtable, urging Grothman to support fixing the difference in how federal law treats substance use and behavioral health records compared to other medical records. While Congress came close to changing the law under 42CFR Part 2 last year during the opioid treatment reform package, those efforts ultimately stalled in the Senate. Grothman said he would see if there might be opportunities for Congress to work on that again this session.
With the recent federal focus on price transparency, John Russell, President and CEO of Columbus Community Hospital, informed Congressman Grothman that Wisconsin hospitals are committed to transparency and have been using WHA’s PricePoint for 15 years to provide meaningful information on patient charges. He also described how his hospital’s patient financial counselors meet with patients prior to planned procedures to walk them through expected costs and what assistance might be available. David Lally of HSHS Eastern Division thanked Congressman Grothman for his recent support of reforming the Stark Law (see article on page 1
) and described how the law has prevented HSHS from trying to find innovative ways to provide patients rides for medical appointments in an effort to improve care and outcomes. Also attending the roundtable were Tony Curry of Advocate Aurora, Jeremy Levin of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Elizabeth Cliffe of Ascension, Peg Larson of Partners of WHA, and Jon Hoelter of WHA. Congressman Grothman ended his week with a tour of ThedaCare Regional Medical Center – Neenah on April 25. There, he met with hospital leaders and reflected on his frustrations with Congress’ seeming inability to resolve many important issues people care about in his first two terms. He said he believed it would be difficult to get many substantive reforms through this session due to divided government, but was interested in learning from his local hospital leaders what they thought was most important for Congress to work on. During the visit, Congressman Grothman participated in a tour of the hospital’s Trauma Center led by ThedaCare Neenah’s President Dale Gisi, along with Chief Strategy Officer Thomas Arquilla, and Director of Trauma Dr. David Schultz. Dr. Schultz discussed the preventive campaigns they do for the community to encourage safe behaviors that can help prevent residents from needing treatment in the area’s only level two trauma center. Congressman Grothman also got to see the work ThedaCare does in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin – Fox Valley, which is attached to the hospital, as well as ThedaStar Air Medical, which provides emergency patient transports via helicopter.