Nearly 1,000 hospital and health system leaders, providers, volunteers, clinical and non-clinical staff and trustees attended the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) Advocacy Day virtual event on April 14, followed by three days’ worth of meetings between hospital representatives and state elected leaders to discuss key priorities for hospitals as lawmakers deliberate the 2021-2023 state budget.
In a recorded opening address
to attendees, WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding reflected on the year that has passed since the 2020 WHA Advocacy Day event was cancelled because of COVID-19.
“With little warning, this unrelenting virus clamped down on our state, straining the limits of our operations, finances and staffing, testing our resolve and resilience like never before,” Borgerding said.
Not only did conference attendees show their commitment to communities, they stood as strong advocates for their hospitals, their health systems, their patients and their colleagues, Borgerding noted, adding, “WHA is immensely proud to be your partner.”
Following Borgerding’s welcome message, Gov. Tony Evers provided an update on the state’s response to the pandemic, acknowledging the extraordinary challenges health care providers faced in preparing for and responding to COVID-19 and thanking hospitals and health systems for their efforts to treat those stricken by the disease and help administer vaccines to the state’s residents.
“There are a heck of a lot of Wisconsinites who've made it home and who are reunited with their families because of the good work of our health care providers and frontline workers," Evers said.
The event’s keynote address by internationally recognized journalist, anchor and talk show host Frank Sesno was followed by a bipartisan legislative panel moderated by Borgerding. Panelists included Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point).
In preparation for virtual meetings between hospital representatives and their elected leaders, WHA Senior Vice President of Government Relations Kyle O’Brien provided an issue briefing focused on the need for regulatory flexibility to deliver efficient and effective care to patients and the importance of Medicaid funding to the state’s health system.