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On January 2, 2023, Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake resigned her position. She was appointed to this position after the 2021 resignation of then-DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, who resigned her position to join the Biden Administration in Washington, DC. Karen Timberlake also served as the DHS Deputy Secretary and Secretary under former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle’s (D) administration in the mid-to-late 2000s.
Governor Evers has publicly stated that he will announce a new DHS Secretary-designee in the coming weeks. As such, DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge is the most senior official at this state agency at this time. Once the Governor announces a new DHS Secretary-designee, we will share that in a future newsletter.
On January 17, 2023, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced that it is looking for qualified applicants for two advisory councils addressing long-term care matters – the Long-Term Care Advisory Council (LTCAC) and the IRIS Advisory Committee (IAC). This could be a great opportunity to have a WiHPCA member on one or both councils, particularly the LTCAC. Applications are due to DHS by Friday, February 3, 2023.
According to the DHS website, LTCAC “Members give advice and make recommendations to the DHS Secretary about long-term care policy, programs, and services.” For more information about the council or to apply, go to the LTCAC page on the DHS website.
The DHS website states that “The IAC advises DHS about the IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct) program. IRIS is a self-directed program for adults with disabilities and elderly people. IAC members have knowledge, experience, expertise, and community relationships relevant to this area. They give ideas, opinions, or facts to improve the IRIS program.” For more information about the IRIS Advisory Committee, go to the IAC page on the DHS website. If you are interested in applying, go to the DHS website.
On January 3, statewide constitutional officers – including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer – and newly-elected state legislators were sworn in. In addition, the 2023-2024 session of the Wisconsin State Legislature began. Republicans will continue to have majorities in both the Assembly and Senate.
In December, Assembly and Senate leadership announced the members of the various legislative committees. The following is a list of the legislators who are now members of the health-focused committees for the 2023-2024 legislative session:
Assembly Health, Aging and Long-Term Care Committee
Senate Committee on Health
· Legislative Session
Both the State Senate and the State Assembly were on the floor this month, but only dealt with limited calendars. Both houses adopted an amendment to the constitution relating to bail imposed on defendants awaiting trial, as well as a resolution to create an advisory referendum to be held at the April non-partisan election on the issue of whether individuals receiving public assistance should be subject to a work requirement. The proposed constitutional amendment will also go before voters (to approve or deny) in April.
· Protasiewicz with Early Supreme Court Fundraising Lead
The first campaign finance reports for WI Supreme Court candidates were due earlier this month, and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz reported raising $756,000 in the last 6 months of last year, more than doubling her next closest competitors. Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow raised $306,000, former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly raised $312,000 and Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell raised $115,000. The four face off in a primary in February, with the top two vote getters moving on to the April General Election. While the Supreme Court is nonpartisan, its members do loosely line up along ideological lines, with Conservatives holding a 4-3 advantage. For Conservatives to maintain their majority, either Dorow or Kelly would need to win the April Election.
· Legislative Republicans circulate Tax Proposals
Legislative Republicans have proposed two bills early this session focusing on tax cuts, fulfilling campaign promises from last fall. Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu circulated a bill that would phase in a flat tax over the next four years. The State currently has four income tax brackets, and if this bill were to pass, everyone in Wisconsin would be paying a rate of 3.25%, down from 7.65%, which is what taxpayers in the upper bracket are currently paying. Governor Evers has said he does not support this proposal, although he is likely to introduce his own income tax relief proposal in his budget bill.
Republicans have also re-introduced legislation to eliminate the personal property tax in Wisconsin. While Evers vetoed a bill to repeal the personal property tax last session, Republicans hope a compromise on the issue can be reached this session.
WiAHC Legislative Outreach Program
Grassroots advocacy is the most powerful tool WiAHC has at its disposal to shape public policy – and building relationships with lawmakers is the most important aspect of grassroots advocacy. In effort to capitalize on our greatest advocacy resource – our membership – WiAHC has established our Coffee Conversations with Legislators advocacy program.
The initiative is designed to help connect members with their local legislators. Under the program, the WiAHC Government Affairs Team will set-up in-district meetings between WiAHC members and state lawmakers who represent them in the Legislature. These meetings, which can be located at your facility, or a local coffee shop provide a tremendous opportunity for WiAHC members to build or strengthen their relationships with local legislators and to educate them on home health care and on policy issues important to home health care professionals and their patients.
Again, WiAHC encourages all members to participate in this critical grassroots advocacy program. If you’re interested in participating, please contact the WiAHC office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WiAHC is happy to remind members about and provide links to the latest articles and information on the home health care industry from Home Health Care News and other publications:
· Home Care Providers Keep Cautious Eye On Medicare Advantage: NAHC President
Home Health Care News - By Patrick Filbin | January 19, 2023
Home health providers should keep a close eye on the rise and popularity of managed care plans under Medicare Advantage in 2023. That was one of the many messages from Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), during Wednesday’s webinar with Netsmart. Read more…
· The Potentially Dire Long-Term Impact Of Home Health Agency Closures
Home Health Care News - By Patrick Filbin | January 17 2022
Back in October, Hospice and Home Care of Juneau closed after 20 years in business. A month earlier, Trinity Health At Home in Springfield, Illinois, shut its doors and laid off 60 employees. At the start of the new year, Oahu Home Healthcare announced it was shutting down, leaving just eight at-home care agencies on the most populated island in Hawaii. Read more…
· MedPAC Unanimously Recommends Home Health Payment Rate Cuts
Home Health Care News - By Patrick Filbin | January 12, 2023
In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended that the Medicare base payment rate for home health care be reduced by 7% for CY 2024.
This recommendation is in line with previous recommendations by the commission over the years. Read More…
· Top Home Health Trends For 2023
Home Health Care News - By Andrew Dolan | January 6, 2023
Home health care’s 2022 was dimmed by the dark cloud of Medicare rate cuts. That cloud still hangs overhead in 2023. To weather the storm, providers are scrambling to find answers to persistent problems, namely staffing shortages. At the same time, they’re renegotiating arrangements with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and pivoting from certain service lines to others. They’re attempting to become more efficient – in any way possible. Read more…
· FTC Proposes Rule that Would Ban Employee Noncompete Clauses
Associated Press – Alexandra Olson and Michelle Chapman| January 6, 2023
The Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule Thursday that would ban U.S. employers from imposing noncompete clauses on workers, a sweeping measure that could make it easier for people to switch jobs and deepen competition for labor across a wide range of industries. The proposed rule would prevent employers from imposing contract clauses that prohibit their employees from joining a competitor, typically for a period of time, after they leave the company. Read more…
Home Health Care News, which is part of the Aging Media Network, is a leading source for news and information covering the home health industry.
Several important updates and policy changes are included in the 4,100 page Omnibus bill released at the end of 2022. National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has distilled those provisions that directly or indirectly affect home care and hospice. Those include both policy changes and funding actions through federal appropriations. NAHC will continue to keep the community aware of and understanding the implications of this end-of-the-year legislation. More information available on the NAHC website. Additional links:
· Bill Text
· Explanation of Senate Finance Committee
· Summary of LHHS Bills
· Explanatory Statement of Health-Related Bills
On December 6, WiAHC Board Chair Jayne Thill is hosting State Representative Jesse James (R-Altoona) at the Compassus office in Marshfield, WI. Rep. James was elected to the state Senate on Nov. 8 and will be sworn in next year as the new senator from Wisconsin’s 23rd Senate District, which covers Chippewa County, as well as portions of Eau Claire, Dunn, Clark, Wood, and Marathon Counties. The meeting will provide a great opportunity for Jayne and WiAHC to establish a strong working relationship with a newly elected senator. However, this meeting alone is not going to raise WiAHC’s profile in the State Capitol. We need numerous members from many communities across the state to host a legislative visit. It’s key to our advocacy success…
WiAHC Legislative Key Contact Program
If you were not yet aware, we would like to remined you about WiAHC’s Legislative Key Contact Program, which can be a highly effective grassroots advocacy tool to help build and nurture strong on-going relationships between WiAHC members and lawmakers in Wisconsin. Ultimately, the program can help us help shape new policies important to our members.
The program is now live on the WiAHC website and members can easily and quickly sign-up as a Key Contact. With the campaign season winding down, and the 2023-24 legislative session right around the corner, it’s more important than ever for WiAHC to have a robust Key Contact Program. It is essential to raising our profile in the State Capitol and beyond.
As a Key Contact, you can help influence the legislative process by cultivating relationships with elected officials. By taking advantage of existing relationships and making new contact with members of the Wisconsin Legislature (as well as the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation), you can help us educate lawmakers on industry issues and influence legislation.
But the program will not succeed without strong member participation, so please take a few moments to read more about it – and learn how simple it is to “enlist” and participate as a Key Contact. The time commitment is minimal and your responsibility as a key contact depends on your level of comfort and willingness to engage.
Remember, lawmakers are often eager to hear input from their constituents, and as an expert in the home health care field, you can make a real difference in the policy process as a Key Contact. CLICK HERE to sign-up by filling out and submitting a brief online survey.
WISCNEWS – Oct. 27, 2022
The Wisconsin Association for Home Health Care presented Sen. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) with the organization’s 2022 Champion of Home Health Care legislative award for her leadership on policies to advance home health care in Wisconsin and improve the delivery of patient care provided by home health professionals, according to an Oct. 25 press release. Read more…
· 22 States Petition For CMS To Repeal Vaccine Mandate For Health Care Workers
Home Health Care News - By Joyce Famakinwa | November 18, 2022
A group of 22 states — led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen — have urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to lift the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers in the Medicare and Medicaid space. The 22 states include Montana, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. Read More…
· Home Care Provider Leaders Get Candid About Survival Amid Rising Costs
Home Health Care News - By Patrick Filbin | November 18, 2022
While the tailwinds in the market remain, personal home care provider leaders have a lot more to consider about their futures than they did just five years ago. Their thought processes are still resetting. And as they do, their organizations’ strategies will reflect that. Read more…
· DOL Recovers $28 Million In Back Wages For Home Health Workers, Others
Home Health Care News - By Patrick Filbin | November 16, 2022
The U.S. Department of Labor announced this week that it has recovered more than $28 million in back wages and damages for nearly 25,000 workers in the home health, skilled nursing facility (SNF) and residential care settings. Specifically, the DOL reported that it had recovered $1.2 million in back wages for 600 home health care workers in Texas and Louisiana. Read more…
· Final home health rule gives industry a fright
McKnights Health Care – By Liza Berger | November 4, 2022
Just in time for Halloween, the federal government released a final home health rule. While it may not have risen to the level of horror, it still managed to spook the industry. In its final rule revealed Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services presented an expansion of Medicare payments for calendar year 2023 of 0.7%, or $125 million, compared to 2022. This figure reflects a 4% market-basket update, or $725 million; a behavioral adjustment of -3.925%, a $635 million decrease; and a small uptick of 0.2%, or $35 million increase. Read more…
· In Case You Missed It: CMS Backs Off Severe Cuts, Finalizes 0.7% Increase To 2023 Provider Payments
Home Health Care News - By Andrew Donlan | October 31, 2022
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its FY 2023 home health final payment rule late Monday. It comes with an estimated increase to 2023 home health payments of 0.7%, or $125 million, compared to 2022 aggregate payments. Although it sets up certain financial challenges moving forward, the final rule is better news for providers than what was previously expected. Read more…
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