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2023-2024 Legislative Session Highlights

June 28, 2024 9:11 AM | Account Administrator (Administrator)

The 2023-2024 state legislative session, which began on January 3, 2023, has ended. The State Assembly held its final floor date for the regular session on February 22, 2024, and the State Senate held its final regular session day on March 12, 2024.  While the Senate reconvened on May 14, 2024, for a “Veto Review” session day, during which they voted to override the Governor’s vetoes of nine bills, it appears unlikely that the Assembly will also reconvene to vote to attempt to override these vetoes.  Furthermore, it does not appear likely at this time that either chamber will reconvene before the November general election.

The following are highlights from the current biennial budget law, as well as other relevant legislation introduced during the 2023-2024 legislative session.

·     2023-2025 State Budget:

o   Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Rate Increase Continuation: Provided $43,707,300 in FY2023-24 and $181,951,800 in FY2024-25 to continue the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) HCBS 5.0 percent rate increase from April 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025.

o   Personal Care Reimbursement:  Increased Medicaid personal care reimbursement rates by $12.9 million in 2023-24 and $25.4 million in 2024-25.

o   Complex Patient Pilot Program:  Provided $5,000,000 in FY2023-24 on a one-time basis to help facilitate the transfer of complex patients from acute care settings, such as hospitals, to post-acute care facilities, such as nursing homes.

o   Allied Health Professional Training:  Provided $2,500,000 annually to expand allied health professional education and training grants.  Expanded eligibility for the program to include registered nurses.

o   Nurse Educators:  Maintained $5 million in annual funding for this program. 

  • NOTE:  WiAHC had requested to increase this annual funding level to $10 million.  In addition, our organization was part of a coalition that advocated increasing this annual funding level to $10 million. 
  • Occupational Credentialing:
    • Software:  $3.57 million for occupational credentialing software and related maintenance.
    • License Processing Staffing:  7 license processing contract workers (on a four-year employment contract).
    • Customer Service Call Center Staffing:  6 license processing-focused customer service call center contract workers (on a two-year employment contract).
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring:  $1.1 million for software improvements, electronic health records integration, and licensing costs for the state’s electronic Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (ePDMP). 

·     Other 2023-2024 Legislative Highlights:

o   Support – Enactment of Senate Bill 476:  Codifies existing state regulations allowing health care providers that do not have a physical location in Wisconsin to be certified as a Medicaid provider in order to treat patients who are Medicaid beneficiaries via telehealth as long as the provider is licensed in the state and is in good standing with the relevant occupational licensing board.  Governor Evers signed this bill on March 22, 2024. 

o   Support – Assembly & Senate Passage of Senate Bill 158:  Grants preliminary occupational health care credentials to those who recently completed the requirements to obtain such a credential (e.g., recent graduates), submitted a license application, and have been engaged by a qualifying health care employer.  The intent behind this bill was to expedite the processing of health care occupational credentials.  Governor Tony Evers vetoed this bill on March 29, 2024. 

o   Support – Assembly Passage of Assembly Bill 204:  Increases the renewal period for health and business occupational credentials from two years to four years.  This legislation passed the Assembly, but the Senate did not vote on it before the end of the legislative session. 

o   Support – Assembly Bill 507:  Prevents an insurance policy from requiring prior authorization for certain health care services, including the first 12 visits for physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or chiropractic services.  The Assembly Health Committee voted unanimously to recommend full Assembly approval of this bill.  However, neither the Assembly nor the Senate took any further action on this bill prior to the end of the legislative session.

·       Miscellaneous Policy Priorities

o   Amending Legislation Limiting Prior Insurance Authorization for Certain Health Care Services:  WiAHC’s government relations representatives will continue to work with the authors of such legislation (e.g., Assembly Bill 507 referenced above) and stakeholders to add “skilled home health nursing” to such legislation to exempt that type of service from prior insurance authorization in certain circumstances.

o   Updating Department of Health Services Regulations: 

§  Professional Advisory Bodies:  WiAHC will continue to work with DHS to remove outdated state regulations related to professional advisory bodies for home health agencies.  Our intent is that this change will be incorporated into a large package of regulatory updates that DHS works on every two years.

·       Governor Signs Bill Creating New State Legislative District Maps

o   On December 22, 2023, the State Supreme Court issued a ruling that Wisconsin’s state legislative district maps are unconstitutional and the maps for each such district must be redrawn before the 2024 elections.  State Supreme Court justices voted 4-3 in favor of this ruling.  The decision focused on specific state legislative districts that include non-contiguous portions of land, which the court found violated the state constitution. 

o   Specifically, the court ruled that the legislature must redraw the boundaries for each state Assembly and state Senate district in advance of the August 2024 primary election.  If the legislature and Governor Evers were not able to agree on legislation creating new district boundaries, the court noted that it would decide on the new boundaries.  As a practical matter, the state Elections Commission noted that new district boundaries needed to be finalized by March 15, 2024. 

o   In January 2024, the parties to the case submitted various proposed state legislative district maps to the court and the court-appointed consultants reviewed these maps and provided their analysis to the court on February 1.  However, in mid-February, the Legislature passed a bill with the version of state legislative district maps that Governor Evers previously submitted to the court.  This legislation passed both chambers of the Legislature with mostly Republican votes and was sent to the Governor.  On February 19, 2024, Governor Evers signed this legislation.  As such, these new legislative district maps have taken effect for legislative candidates who are elected in November 2024.  These new maps may be viewed on the Legislature’s website.

·     Governor Creates Task Force on the Healthcare Workforce

o   On January 29, 2024, Governor Tony Evers signed an executive order creating the Governor’s Task Force on Healthcare Workforce.  According to the Governor’s press release on this topic: “The task force will be charged with studying the workforce challenges facing the state’s healthcare system, including recruitment and retention, identifying ways to improve patient care and alleviate the burdens on the healthcare workforce, exploring educational and training pathways to grow a sustainable healthcare workforce, and creating an action plan with solutions related to workforce development, industry innovation, education, and training for consideration in the governor’s 2025-27 biennial budget.”

o   The task force is chaired by Lieutenant Governor Sara Rodriguez, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in public health, who has worked for both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and as a chronic disease director for the state of Colorado. 

o   The task force is co-chaired by state Department of Workforce Development Secretary Amy Pechacek and state Department of Health Services Secretary Kirsten Johnson.  Prior to being named DHS Secretary, Kirsten Johnson led the City of Milwaukee Health Department, as well as the Washington-Ozaukee Health Department.

o   Task Force members also include representatives from institutions of higher education, medical providers, patient advocacy organizations, among others. 

o   In March 2024, representatives from WiAHC and the Wisconsin Hospice and Palliative Care Association (WiHPCA) participated in a joint meeting with the task force chair, Lieutenant Governor Sara Rodriguez, to discuss health care workforce issues.  Various issues were discussed, including reimbursement from insurers and public sector payers, medical personnel wage levels, and the potential to expand an existing effort to concurrently train high school students to be licensed practical nurses (LPNs), so that they are able to graduate from high school and immediately enter the workforce. 

o   Please be assured that WiAHC’s government relations representatives will continue to monitor the work of this task force.  For more information about this task force, please visit the task force’s website

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