State Assembly Moves Forward on WHA-Supported COVID-19 Legislation
Senate holds committee hearing on companion bill
Wisconsin lawmakers moved forward on COVID-response legislation addressing several regulatory barriers hospitals and other care providers have faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, Assembly Bill 148 and Senate Bill 202, received a unanimous voice vote in the Wisconsin State Assembly and was heard before a Senate Committee on Wednesday, March 17.
In a press statement following Assembly floor action, Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) President and CEO Eric Borgerding applauded the Assembly’s vote and called on the state Senate to act. “Today, challenges related to discharging patients, licensing providers and regulatory barriers to deliver care in alternate settings remain as hospitals implement evolving strategies to care for COVID and non-COVID care patients. Assembly Bill 148 removes these barriers and will help hospitals and health systems continue to improve their response to the pandemic for their communities.”
Rep. Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah), the lead author of Assembly Bill 148, discussed the continued need for AB 148 to “allow our health care providers to continue to productively manage their organizations through the COVID situation.”
“Our state’s hospitals have been both the front line of the fight and the last line of defense during the pandemic, serving as the COVID safety net for all Wisconsin. While we are in a better place compared to this fall, we are not out of this pandemic—and our state’s hospitals remained prepared to go wherever COVID may head,” said Borgerding.
With full approval by the state Assembly, the bill now needs approval by the Wisconsin state Senate, where the Senate Health Committee held a public hearing on the legislation at the same time as the Assembly’s floor vote.
“The Medicaid provisions are designed to do a better job making whole our state’s hospitals, who have been under immense pressure as they’ve worked to be sure that they serve the health care needs of the people of Wisconsin to the best of their ability,” said Senate Health Committee Chair and lead author of Senate Bill 202 Sen. Pat Testin (R-Stevens Point) during the committee’s public hearing. “There’s no question that hospitals went above and beyond. But while hospitals made sure people got the care they needed, our reimbursement system wasn’t designed to account for these measures. This bill makes sure that we can appropriately reimburse hospitals for care in these situations. And in addition, it provides a path for reimbursement for hospital care provided in a home setting, said Testin.”
This story originally appeared in the March 18, 2021 edition of WHA Newsletter