CELEBRATING 100: Day at the Capitol/Advocacy Day

March 05, 2020

Since 1975, WHA has held an event in Madison for its members to learn about issues and then visit legislators to advocate for hospitals. It was originally called “Day at the Capitol.” Today it is called “Advocacy Day.” 
In 1975, approximately 200 members attended the event. The 10 women in the Wisconsin Legislature were special guests at the 12:30 p.m. luncheon. They were: Senator Kathryn Morrison and Representatives Sheehan Donoghue, Joanne Duren, Patricia Goodrich, Esther Doughty Luckhardt, Sharon Metz, Marjorie Miller, Mary Lou Munts, Susan Shannon Engeleiter, and Louise Tesmer. Issues discussed that day were malpractice and professional liability insurance problems faced by hospitals, the state’s proposed program of rate review, certificate of need and hospital service licensure.
Legislators were urged to support SB 299 creating a patient’s compensation act and establishing a malpractice claims board. WHA also urged the insurance commissioner to include hospitals in the definition of those eligible for the Wisconsin Health Care Liability insurance plan legislation to transfer all rate review functions to the Division of Health Policy and Planning. This bill, hospitals contended, did not recognize the WHA-Blue Cross Voluntary rate review program that had been operating since 1972 and had saved more than $8 million in rate increases.
In 1976, there were 250 attendees and in 1977 more than 400 people crowded into Madison’s Concourse Hotel, representing 86 hospitals including 106 administrators and assistants, 26 trustees, 75 auxilians, and 60 department heads and other staff members. In the early years of the event, legislators were invited to have lunch with their constituents. In 1977, hospital representatives were joined by 114 legislators for lunch. 
In 1983, each hospital delegation was limited to six persons only, with the CEO being the point person for coordinating the delegation of hospital and auxiliary members. The legislators were assigned a table for lunch with their delegation. When the Monona Terrace opened in 1997, all bets were off and members started arriving by the busload from Chippewa Falls, Green Bay, Milwaukee and all points of the state.
Wisconsin governors have been invited to speak – either as keynote or at the luncheon. In addition, legislators have been prominent on the agenda. Over the last 17 years, a sitting governor has been the luncheon speaker at 14 Advocacy Days: Gov. Doyle from 2003-2006 and again from 2008-2010 (AG J.B. Van Hollen attended in 2007); Gov. Walker from 2011-2012 and again from 2014-2017 (Rep. Paul Ryan attended in 2013 and Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in 2017) and Gov. Evers in 2019. In 2019, Gov. Tommy Thompson presented as keynote speaker.
Registration fees for the event have ranged from $10 to $40; currently there is no registration fee to attend – Advocacy Day is a real bargain!
Attendees were originally asked to make their own appointments with legislators for the afternoon. Now WHA coordinates all the visits for members – another reason to attend in 2020.
In 2017, 2018 and 2019 attendance was around 1,000. The number of legislative visits scheduled has been impressive as well, with around 500 visits each of the last three years.
Join us in 2020. Register here.

This story originally appeared in the March 05, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter