August 19, 2016
Volume 60, Issue 33

State Employee Health Care Program Rates to Increase Just 1.6% in 2017

On August 16, the State’s Group Insurance Board (GIB) approved an overall 1.6 percent increase in non-Medicare premium rates for 2017 for the state employee group health insurance program. According to the Department of Employee Trust Funds’ news release announcing the trend rate, the small increase compares positively to national premium trend projections of 5 percent to 6 percent. 

The state employee health care program has continued to experience favorable premium rate changes over the past several years. In 2016, the premium rate actually went down by 2.5 percent compared to 2015. And the average premium trend rate experience by the program for the period from 2011 to 2015 was just 2.5 percent. 

Seventeen health plans participate in the state group health insurance program, which covers nearly 250,000 people throughout Wisconsin. Under the fully insured model, the health insurers are at risk if medical costs are higher than projected so the state’s costs are essentially guaranteed. 

“In light of the very favorable trend rate the state employee program has experienced, not just this year, but over the past seven years, we encourage the state and Legislature to consider the risks of self-funding carefully,” said Joanne Alig, WHA senior vice president, policy & research. “The risks to state taxpayers should be weighed against the current model’s high level of performance.”

As reported in previous issues of The Valued Voice, the state has issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking vendors to modify the current fully insured model for providing health coverage to state employees and replace it with a self-funded model. Under a self-funded model, if medical costs are higher than anticipated in a given year, state taxpayers would be at risk for the higher than projected costs. On August 16, ETF staff announced a possible delay in the deadline for responding to the RFP by about two weeks, with more information to be provided in the next several days. 

Relatedly, the Benefit Services Group (BSG) this week released a short white paper describing issues that should be addressed before the state makes a decision on self-funding. BSG has significant experience and expertise regarding Wisconsin’s health care markets. The paper provides information about issues that should be considered with respect to self-funding that cannot be addressed by the RFP process alone. The BSG paper can be found here:

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WHA Task Force Close to Finishing Work on MEB Telemedicine Regulations

WHA’s Telemedicine Task Force met August 15 to review the latest draft of MED 24, the rule being proposed by Wisconsin’s Medical Examining Board (MEB) that would regulate physicians using telemedicine. As previously reported in The Valued Voice, the Medical Examining Board Telemedicine Subcommittee proposed at their May 18 meeting significantly scaling back their proposed telemedicine rules. Recognizing that a more expansive set of rules might potentially result in the unintended consequences of impeding safe and efficient telemedicine practice already in place, the MEB Telemedicine Subcommittee proposed a much more streamlined version. The model language proposed is the recently-enacted Florida telemedicine rule. This would replace the previous language proposed by the subcommittee that was based on the recently-enacted Iowa rule. The current draft of MED 24 can be seen at

WHA’s Telemedicine Task Force has been actively engaged in this issue since the MEB announced last year they were considering adopting new rules for telemedicine. At the August 15 meeting, task force members generally agreed that the current version of MED 24 reflects the input of WHA and the task force. The draft will be presented to the full MEB in September, with a public hearing expected in October. The areas of clarification and minor change identified by the task force will be presented by WHA Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Steve Rush to the MEB prior to their September meeting. 

For more information contact Rush at or 608-274-1820.

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WI Hospitals State PAC & Conduit Contributors: Who Made The List?
$217,000 contributed by 248 individuals

The Wisconsin Hospitals State PAC & Conduit thanks the 248 individuals who have contributed early to this important program, one of the three fundamental components of the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s integrated advocacy approach. Take a look at the contributor list below to find out who made the list as of August 18. 

“If you value the role hospitals or health systems play in keeping Wisconsin’s health care system strong, then your personal support for candidates who also value that role is important. A voluntary, individual contribution to either the Wisconsin Hospitals State PAC or conduit is a wise investment for our collective health care future,” said WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. “I continue to believe better candidates result in better legislators who craft better laws on health care policy.” 

For those who are unfamiliar with the Wisconsin Hospitals State PAC & Conduit, these political funds are made up of individual, voluntary contributions which are then used to support the campaigns of candidates for state office from both parties who value Wisconsin’s high-quality health care system. With Wisconsin Hospitals Conduit contributions, individuals retain control over which candidate campaigns receive their dollars. With contributions to the Wisconsin Hospitals PAC, dollars are pooled together to support candidate campaigns of both parties. 

To support as many candidates for state office as possible who value the role of Wisconsin’s high quality hospitals and systems, the 2016 Wisconsin Hospitals State PAC & Conduit campaign set an aggressive $300,000 goal. To date, roughly $217,000 has been contributed, 72 percent of that goal. In this pivotal year, remember that elections matter and your participation is important. 

“Whether you are an individual health care professional, a health care leader, or have a connection or desire to see health care remain strong in Wisconsin, you can play a positive role through your personal PAC or Conduit contribution,” Borgerding said. “While the Wisconsin Hospitals State PAC & Conduit campaign has several contributor levels beginning at $1,500 and up, all contributions, big and small, will help raise $300,000 in 2016.” 

Become part of the ongoing success story by making your contribution today. Contribute at or by contacting Jenny Boese at 608-268-1816 or or Nora Statsick at 608-239-4535 or

Contributors ranging from $1 to $499  
Anderson, Philip HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
Arnett, Eugene Aurora Health Care
Babbitts, Jamie HSHS - St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center
Baenen, Sharla Bellin Psychiatric Center
Bayer, Tom HSHS St. Vincent Hospital
Boehm, Donna HSHS - St. Nicholas Hospital
Boese, June Wheaton Franciscan - All Saints
Brabant, Christopher HSHS - St. Vincent Hospital
Braddock, Jonathan ISG Advisors, LLC
Brice, Kaitlin HSHS - Eastern Wisconsin Division
Carlson, Peter Aurora Psychiatric Hospital
Clementi, Bridget Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Collins, Sherry Wisconsin Hospital Association
Coopman, Dianne SSM - St. Mary's Janesville Hospital
Danner, Forrest Aspirus Wausau Hospital
Davis, Brett Aspirus, Inc.
Donnelly, Margaret Aspirus Wausau Hospital
Dux, Larry Froedtert & MCW Community Memorial Hospital campus
Evenson, Rock Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin
Ewald, Sandra Aurora Health Care
Ferrigno, Sandra SSM - St. Mary's Hospital
Fielding, Laura Holy Family Memorial, Inc.
Fischer, Deborah Bellin Health System
Franzen, Kimberly HSHS - St. Vincent Hospital
Garibaldi, Isabelle Watertown Regional Medical Center
Giles, Barbara HSHS - St. Vincent Hospital
Grabow, Peter Mayo Clinic Health System -Franciscan Healthcare LaCrosse
Grasmick, Michael Wisconsin Hospital Association
Groskreutz, Kevin HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital
Gustafson, Sara UW Hospitals and Clinics
Halida, Cheryl HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital
Hamilton, Mark UW Hospitals and Clinics
Harrington, Kathleen Mayo Clinic Health System - Eau Claire
Hedrington, Brian HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
Helgeson, Jason HSHS - Eastern Wisconsin Division
Hieb, Laura Bellin Hospital
Hill, Juliet HSHS - Sacred Heart Hospital
Jamerson, Barbara ProHealth Care - Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital
Kaiser, Ann HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
Kantos, Craig ThedaCare Medical Center - Waupaca
Kelsey Foley, Kathy Aspirus Wausau Hospital
Kempen, Jacob Aspirus Wausau Hospital
Kingston, Mary Beth Aurora Health Care
Kirsch, Jennifer Gundersen Health System
Klapperich, Linda Ministry - Our Lady of Victory Hospital
Klay, Chris HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital
Kluth, Doreen HSHS - St. Vincent Hospital
Kocourek, Cathie Aurora Medical Center - Two Rivers
Kruse, Joe Mayo Clinic Health System -Franciscan Healthcare LaCrosse
Lux, Teresa Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin
Luehring, Sally HSHS - St. Vincent Hospital
Lynch, Sue Mayo Clinic Health System -Franciscan Healthcare LaCrosse
Manley, Paula Prevea Health/Hospital Sisters Health System
Mannix, Peter HSHS - St. Clare Memorial Hospital
Marquardt, Amy Hospital Sisters Health System
Maurer, Mary Holy Family Memorial, Inc.
Mays, Laura Stoughton Hospital Association
McArdle, PeggyAnn Agnesian HealthCare
McElligott, Marilyn Gundersen Health System
McMeans, Scott Aurora BayCare Medical Center - Green Bay
Meicher, John SSM - St. Mary's Hospital
Nevers, Rick Aspirus, Inc.
Nicklaus, Todd Aspirus, Inc.
Norell, Brett Holy Family Memorial, Inc.
Olson, Bonnie HSHS - Sacred Heart Hospital
Ose, Peggy Aspirus Riverview Hospital
Ostrander, Gail HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division
Pearson, Jane SSM - St. Mary's Janesville Hospital
Peirick, Marcie Watertown Regional Medical Center
Pempek, Kalynn Aspirus Wausau Hospital
Penovich, Carrie Aurora Medical Center - Two Rivers
Prise, Eric Tomah Memorial Hospital
Prunty, Brian Aspirus Wausau Hospital
Quackenboss, Tatum HSHS St. Vincent Hospital
Rauber, Jill Holy Family Memorial, Inc.
Revnew, Dorothy ProHealth Care - Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital
Richman, Tim Affinity Health - Calumet Medical Center
Risley-Gray, Ruth Aspirus, Inc.
Schaetzl, Ron SSM - St. Clare Hospital & Health Services
Selle, Ginger SSM - St. Clare Hospital & Health Services
Sheehan, Heather Hayward Area Memorial Hospital & Nursing Home
Sisel, Scott Eide Bailly, LLP
Stapelfeldt, Kimberly Aurora Medical Center - Washington County
Statsick, Nora Wisconsin Hospital Association
Statz, Darrell Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative
Stelzer, Jason SSM - St. Clare Hospital & Health Services
Stich, Dan Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative
Strasser, Kathy Aspirus, Inc.
Swanson, Kaitlin HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division
Tapper, Joy Milwaukee Health Care Partnership
Thornton, Eric SSM - St. Mary's Janesville Hospital
Walker, Troy SSM - St. Clare Hospital & Health Services
Warpinski, Heidi HSHS - St. Vincent Hospital
Wetenkamp, Vicki Holy Family Memorial, Inc.
Whitinger, Margaret Agnesian HealthCare
Wilmet, Jodi Bellin Hospital
Wysocki, Scott SSM - St. Clare Hospital & Health Services
Contributors ranging from $500 to $999  
Bagnall, Andrew HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital
Behl, Kevin Columbia St. Mary's Hospital - Milwaukee
Braun, James Ministry - Flambeau Hospital
Breen, Melissa Marshfield Clinic
Brenny, Terrence Stoughton Hospital Association
Cadieux, Marc Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Connors, Lawrence HSHS St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center
Cottrell, Michael HSHS
Curran-Meuli, Jane Holy Family Memorial, Inc.
DeGroot, Dan HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital
Dexter, Donn Mayo Clinic Health System - Eau Claire
Doeringsfeld, Jean WHA Information Center
Edwards, Gordon Marshfield Clinic
Ericson, Allen Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin
Fitzgerald, Moira
Froemming, Lisa Columbia St. Mary's Hospital - Milwaukee
Gille, Larry HSHS St. Vincent Hospital
Gorelick, Marc Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Hartberg, David Gundersen - Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics
Heaney, Dwight Fort HealthCare
Jensema, Christine HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division
Johnson, Kenneth HSHS St. Vincent Hospital
King, Steve SSM - St. Mary's Hospital
King, Vivian Aurora Health Care
Lange, George Columbia St. Mary's Hospital - Milwaukee
Larson, Margaret Affinity Health - Mercy Medical Center
Logemann, Cari Aspirus, Inc.
McCawley, Thomas Beloit Health System
McNally, Maureen Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin
Miller, Brent Marshfield Clinic
Mulder, Doris Beloit Health System
Myers, Karen Stoughton Hospital Association
Nelson, James Fort HealthCare
O'Farrell, Rick Holy Family Memorial, Inc.
O'Keefe, James Mile Bluff Medical Center
Ordinans, Karen Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Peterson, Douglas Chippewa Valley Hospital
Quinn, George Wisconsin Hospital Association
Reardon, Brian Hospital Sisters Health System
Rocole, Theresa Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare
Roesler, Bruce The Richland Hospital
Roethle, Linda Bellin Hospital
Rohrbach, Dan Southwest Health Center
Roundy, Ann Columbus Community Hospital
Rude, Nels The Kammer Group
Rutkowski, Jennifer Grant Regional Health Center
Schmitz, Bonnie Agnesian HealthCare
Schubring, Randy Mayo Clinic Health System - Eau Claire
Sczygelski, Sidney Aspirus Wausau Hospital
Selberg, Heidi HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division
Shabino, Charles Wisconsin Hospital Association
Shorter, Tom Godfrey & Kahn, SC
Theiler, Brian Gundersen Tri-County Hospital & Clinics
Thurmer, DeAnn Agnesian - Waupun Memorial Hospital
VanCourt, Bernie Aurora - Bay Area Medical Center
Van Meeteren, Bob Reedsburg Area Medical Center
Wolf, Edward Lakeview Medical Center
Worrick, Gerald Ministry - Door County Medical Center
Contributors ranging from $1,000 to $1,499  
Bedwell, Elizabeth Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Brenton, Andrew Wisconsin Hospital Association
Brussow, Julie Marshfield Clinic
Butler, John Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin
Colman, Gerard Aurora Health Care
Dietsche, James Bellin Hospital
Francaviglia, Stephen Aurora Health Care
Garcia-Thomas, Cristy Aurora Health Care
Geraghty, Tricia Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Graebner, David Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center
Hafeman, Paula HSHS St. Vincent Hospital
Hanus, Andrew Aurora Health Care
Jacobson, Terry St. Mary's Hospital of Superior
Jelle, Laura SSM - St. Clare Hospital & Health Services
Just, Lisa Aurora Health Care - South Region
Keddington, Richard Watertown Regional Medical Center
Lindberg, Steve Mayo Clinic Health System - Red Cedar
Miller, Kim Beaver Dam Community Hospital
Nelson, David HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
Oland, Charisse Rusk County Memorial Hospital
Olson, David Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin
Pollard, Dennis Froedtert & MCW Community Memorial Hospital campus
Punzenberger, Lindsay Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Rai, Ashok Prevea Health/Hospital Sisters Health System
Rush, Steven Wisconsin Hospital Association
Sanders, Robert Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Schafer, Michael Spooner Health System
Stuart, Philip Tomah Memorial Hospital
Swanson, Kerry SSM - St. Mary's Janesville Hospital
Teigen, Seth SSM Health Care of Wisconsin
Voelker, Thomas Aspirus Riverview Hospital
Wessels, Bill Aspirus, Inc.
White-Jacobs, Mary Beth Black River Memorial Hospital
Woleske, Chris Bellin Hospital
Contributors ranging from $1,500 to $1,999 Gold Club
Anderson, Sandy Ministry Health Care
Bard, Jeffrey Aurora Medical Center - Oshkosh
Bloch, Jodi Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Brophy, Michael Aurora Health Care
Clapp, Nicole Grant Regional Health Center
Coffman, Joan HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital
Court, Kelly Wisconsin Hospital Association
Frank, Jennifer Wisconsin Hospital Association
Grasmick, Mary Kay Wisconsin Hospital Association
Gullingsrud, Tim Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home
Gustafson, Andy SSM Healthcare of Wisconsin
Harding, Edward Aurora - Bay Area Medical Center
Heywood, Matthew Aspirus, Inc.
Lewis, Gordon Burnett Medical Center
McKevett, Timothy Beloit Health System
Roller, Rachel Aurora Health Care
Russell, John Columbus Community Hospital
Sheehan, John UW Health American Center
Schulze, Connie Ministry Health Care
Contributors ranging from $2,000 to $2,999 Gold Club
Alig, Joanne Wisconsin Hospital Association
Duncan, Robert Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Herzog, Mark Holy Family Memorial Hospital
Hilt, Monica Ministry Health Care/St. Elizabeth Hospital
Kachelski, Joe Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network
Killoran, Carrie Aurora Health Care
Lappin, Michael Aurora Health Care
Leitch, Laura Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman
Levin, Jeremy Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative
Natzke, Ryan Marshfield Clinic
Potter, Brian Wisconsin Hospital Association
Rislov, Amy Aurora Health Care
Sexton, William Crossing Rivers Health Medical Center
Sherry, Bernie Ascension Health
Stanford, Matthew Wisconsin Hospital Association
Starmann-Harrison, Mary Hospital Sisters Health System
Steines, Sara Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Turney, Susan Marshfield Clinic
Wallace, Michael Fort HealthCare
Contributors ranging from $3,000 to $4,999 Platinum Club
Andersen, Travis Columbia St. Mary's, Inc.
Boese, Jennifer Wisconsin Hospital Association
Boatwright, Damond SSM Health Care of Wisconsin
Jacobson, Catherine Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin
Mettner, Michelle Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Meyer, Daniel Aurora BayCare Medical Center 
Neufelder, Daniel Ministry Health Care
Normington, Jeremy Affinity Health - Mercy Medical Center
O'Brien, Kyle & Laura Wisconsin Hospital Association
Pandl, Therese HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division
Sanders, Michael Monroe Clinic
Standridge, Debra Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare
Turkal, Nick Aurora Health Care
Contributors ranging from $5,000 to $9,999 Leaders Circle
Borgerding, Eric & Dana Wisconsin Hospital Association
Brenton, Stephen Wisconsin Hospital Association
Kerwin, George Bellin Hospital
Size, Tim Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative
Troy, Peggy Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
$10,000+ Contributors Leaders Circle
Tyre, Scott Capitol Navigators, Inc


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WHA Submits Comments on CMS Proposed Rule to Update the CoP

On August 15, WHA submitted a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on a proposed rule released earlier this summer that would make a variety of changes to the Medicare and Medicaid Conditions of Participation for both PPS hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs). Overall, WHA was pleased with the clinical flexibilities and clarifications contained in the proposed rule but urged CMS to make certain changes before finalizing the rule.

In its comment letter, WHA recommended that CMS create additional flexibilities in its proposed requirements that PPS hospitals and CAHs establish antibiotic stewardship programs and expand their infection prevention control programs. WHA urged CMS to give facilities as much flexibility as possible to make staffing decisions for these programs and to delay enforcement of or phase in antibiotic stewardship program requirements.

Among other comments in the WHA letter were the following:

See WHA’s comment letter. See the proposed rule.

For additional information, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, at or 608-274-1820.

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Fund Created to Assist Hospital Employees Devastated by Louisiana Flood 

The flooding in south Louisiana has been devastating for many individuals, families and businesses. Unlike a hurricane, there was no warning or time to prepare. It is estimated that more than 5,000 hospital employees suffered significant property loss to their homes.

In an effort to provide some relief, the Louisiana Hospital Association Research and Education Foundation has established the Louisiana Hospital Employee Assistance Fund to provide support to our family of hospital employees who so desperately need our help. Contributions are tax deductible, and 100 percent of the money raised will go to hospital employees who suffered significant property loss to their homes/residences during the August 2016 flooding disaster.

If you would like to contribute to this fund, visit for information on how you can donate by credit card online or by check. After making a donation, you will receive a written or electronic acknowledgement, including information needed for tax purposes. For information about the Louisiana Hospital Employee Assistance Fund, email or call 225-928-0026.

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WHA Sponsors Fall Prevention Workshop

“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” is a familiar phrase that many people associate with a TV commercial promoting the use of a wearable electronic alert device. In real life, over one million people experience a fall while in the hospital. Twenty percent of all hospital inpatients in the U.S. fall at least once during a hospital stay—and 30 percent of those result in an injury. 

On August 17, 2016, Dr. Patricia Quigley led over 160 participants in the “Re-Energizing Fall and Injury Prevention Practice Workshop” at Glacier Canyon in Wisconsin Dells. Nurse leaders and front-line staff, physical and occupational therapists, and caregivers from across the health care continuum spent the day understanding the current state of the science of falls and injury prevention. Quigley challenged attendees to use evidence-based practices and individualized, patient-centered approaches to meet one of the most complex challenges in health care today.

Patient-centered approaches such as including the patient in the post-fall huddle and investigation, acknowledging the role of patient’s choice and autonomy, and using critical judgement in the application of tools and technology are essential strategies. Quigley encouraged each participant to take one or two key learnings back and use small tests of change to measure and evaluate the implementation of new ideas or interventions.

WHA will continue to focus on the reduction of falls with injury as a top priority in their quality agenda.

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MACRA, New WHAIC Data Tool Highlight WHA Finance Council Meeting

WHA continues to closely analyze the impact the new quality payment program for physicians created under the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 will have on WHA members. MACRA creates two paths for clinician reimbursement beginning in 2019—Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Models (APMs).

At the August 17, 2016 WHA Council on Finance meeting, chaired by Steve Little, president/CEO, Agnesian HealthCare, WHA Senior Vice President Joanne Alig and WHA Chief Quality Officer Kelly Court provided a MACRA overview. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expects the majority of eligible clinicians to be on the MIPS path in 2019, but hopes that over time more will participate in alternative payment models. The challenge, however, is that the vast majority of the current payment models won’t qualify as “advanced” and thus be eligible for reimbursement under the APM path. WHA encouraged CMS to seek ways to expand the options for APMs and additionally for development of new APMs that can be focused on rural areas. 

Alig noted a key takeaway is that the timeline for understanding the complexities of the law and proposed rules is short, let alone to begin to implement processes for improvement. The performance year for MIPS and APMs begins January 1, 2017, and the rule isn’t expected to be final until around November of this year. 

Court provided details about MIPS, which has four components. MIPS replaces the existing Physician Quality Reporting System and calls for providers to report on six quality measures. Providers will also be required to report Clinical Practice Improvement Activities (CPIA), choosing from a list of 90 options. The program also includes cost measures, which will be calculated by CMS using Medicare claims. Finally, MIPs includes a component called “Advancing Care Information,” which will replace the existing Medicare meaningful use program for providers.

Jenny Boese, WHA vice president, federal affairs & advocacy, provided the Council with an update on an abruptly-enacted law, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which impacts some provider-based hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs). She provided an update on legislation, HR 5273, seeking to fix the law for a small sub-set of HOPDs caught up in this issue as well as an overview of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed implementation guidance. That guidance was released in the FY 2017 Outpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule. WHA believes the guidance is an overreach by CMS and will be submitting comments to that effect by the September 6, 2016 deadline.

Redefining Hospital Community Benefit to Capture Broader Impacts
Attorney David Edquist, von Briesen & Roper presented an historical perspective on the evolution of nonprofit hospital exemptions and the changes in requirements that were included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Wisconsin was one of the first states in the nation to survey its member hospitals to collect data related to their health improvement activities. While WHA collects and reports the costs that hospitals incur related to community benefit, the survey does not account for the broader, downstream benefits these services have on the health of a community. 

Mary Kay Grasmick, WHA vice president, communications, told the Council that WHA has worked closely with its members on issues related to community benefit reporting, Schedule H and public reporting. Hospitals have grown increasingly sophisticated in how they approach the community health needs assessment and in their implementation of programs and services that improve health status in their regions. However, these efforts are often seen in isolation and not in context to the benefit they bring in terms of reducing health care costs, causing measurable gains in overall community health, which increases worker productivity, and supporting public health.

“Hospitals and health systems provide essential services that, if we were not providing them, would fall to government or other organizations, or just not be available,” Grasmick said. “The bottom line is we want to identify and quantify the financial and societal impact our work is having in communities across Wisconsin.” 

WHA is working with Edquist and other experts in the field to develop a new initiative that will give WHA members the tools they need to communicate and redefine community benefit to capture broader impacts.

WHAIC Launches New Data Analysis Tool: Kaavio
Jim Cahoy, senior database administrator for the WHA Information Center (WHAIC), demonstrated the features of a new tool, called “Kaavio,” which allows WHA hospital and health system users to analyze and visualize Wisconsin discharge data. Cahoy said users can easily interact with the Wisconsin discharge data—applying filters, refining parameters, and adding criteria. The changes are instantly reflected in the data. Kaavio presents the data in meaningful graphics that allow users to detect patterns, trends, outliers, and relationships that can help users make important decisions. 

The new tool is designed to help WHA hospitals and health systems gain crucial insights into areas such as population health, utilization, patient access, geographic distribution and market share. For more information, contact Brian Competente, WHAIC operations manager, at

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Guest Column: Tackling HR’s Top Challenge
By Sheri Rasmussen, Employee Benefits Director, ISG Advisors

The role of human resources (HR) continues to change—from coach, counselor, employee advocate, and strategist. HR’s effectiveness requires an understanding of the hospital’s strategic direction, as well as the ability to influence key policies and decisions. While HR leaders have many initiatives, fostering a culture that builds leadership skills and engages the entire workforce is key to success. 

Staffing issues remain a top challenge. Significant pressure is on hospitals and health care providers to replace aging baby boomer employees. At the same time, the number of people requiring health care services is increasing. This gap between supply and demand is one of human resources greatest challenges.

An incredible amount of knowledge is being lost as thousands of Americans retire every month. Salaries have done little to help retain these valuable employees; however, keeping baby boomers from completely exiting the workforce and staying engaged is an important area of focus. 

In addition, turnover remains a challenge. As the economy stabilizes, more employees are willing to change jobs, often citing lack of advancement opportunities, workload and salary. Retaining employees plays a crucial role in patient satisfaction, organizational culture and quality of care.

HR leaders must tackle both challenges by fostering environments that promote advancement and training opportunities. One way to achieve this is to pair experienced employees who may be nearing retirement with new hires to develop and implement coaching or mentoring programs. These programs will help build needed leadership skills and positively impact strategic planning, staff engagement and the hospital’s overall performance.

A competitive compensation and benefits strategy helps attract qualified employees needed to provide care to a growing patient population, but what more can HR hospital leadership do to stay ahead of the challenge?

About ISG Advisors
As WHA’s Premier Partner, ISG Advisors goes above and beyond to help hospitals balance employee needs with the cost of employee benefits. Through strategic planning, professional services, and technology-based solutions, ISG can help reduce benefit costs, increase efficiency, and improve employee satisfaction—bringing your employee benefits program to new heights in quality and performance.

Securities & Investment Advisory Services offered through VSR Financial Services, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser and Member FINRA and SIPC. ISG Advisors is not owned or controlled by VSR Financial Services, Inc.

Learn more at

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