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Two Home Health Bills Making Way Through State Legislature

October 31, 2019 10:23 AM | WiAHC Office (Administrator)

This month, two bills aimed at helping home health agencies saw significant process in the legislative process. Senate Bill 416, which raises skilled nursing home health rates by 10%, received a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health. Senate Bill 380 its companion bill Assembly Bill 410 both passed their respective committees this month. WiAHC actively engaged in lobbying and advocating for both initiatives. 

On Wednesday, October 23, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services heard testimony on Senate Bill 416, which seeks to raise Medicaid reimbursement for home health skilled nursing visits by 10%. Medicaid rates for home health care have not been raised in over a decade, which has ultimately led to a workforce shortage crisis. Proponents argue the rates must be raised to attract more nurses to work in home health care. Additional workforce will be vital as home health utilization rates continue to increase. 

WiAHC members Lisa Kirker and Colleen Shade testified before the committee in support of the bill. Kirker and Shade provided integral testimony on the financial strain placed on Wisconsin’s home health agencies due, in part, to insufficient Medicaid rates. They explained the intricacies of how Wisconsin’s rates are contributing to a nursing workforce shortage for agencies.

Committee members greatly appreciated their testimony and asked inciteful questions to gain additional information and clarification. By the end of their testimony, it was clear committee members understood the workforce shortage is real and the Medicaid rates are antiquated. WiAHC leaders are hopeful it will receive a vote in the coming weeks. 

The Senate Committee on Health also unanimously passed Senate Bill 380, authored by Senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton), allows any Medicaid provider to seek and receive reimbursement for services provided via telehealth technology. The Assembly Committee on Medicaid Reform and Oversight passed the Assembly version, Assembly Bill 410, on October 30. WiAHC’s lobbyist advocated for the bills before the committee members throughout October. 

The next step for Senate Bill 380 and Assembly Bill 410 would be to receive votes in their respective houses. WiAHC’s lobbying team is working with legislative leaders to try to schedule those bills.

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