The Senate Committee on Revenue, Financial Institutions and Rural Issues approved a bill Thursday that would increase funding for rural broadband and add healthcare criteria the Public Service Commission should consider when awarding money.
Lawmakers are starting to take up proposals introduced as part of the special session Gov. Scott Walker called in January to fight the opioid epidemic.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held a public hearing Tuesday on bills that would expand limited legal immunity to overdose victims and increase the number of investigators focused on drug trafficking and addiction at the Department of Justice. The two bills are out of 11 proposed during the session.
"Our goal is to save lives and to fight addiction and illegal drug use," Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, told committee members.
One proposal would extend limited immunity to overdose victims, building on a 2014 law that provided immunity to those who called for help. It has support from the Wisconsin Medical Society.
Harsdorf said Wisconsin is the only state with a 911 Good Samaritan law that does not extend limited immunity to both the caller and the person experiencing the overdose.
"This is a very important change for us to make to save lives," she said. The committee is set to vote on the proposal Thursday.
The other bill would provide $420,000 annually to hire four investigators in the Department of Justice. Access to illegal drugs such as heroin and meth is "far too easy in many of our communities," Harsdorf said.
"We continue to make great strides in the fight against illegal drug and addiction by increasing access to treatment and encouraging prevention programs," she said. "These additional positions will help in the fight by striking at those who are bringing the illegal drugs into the state."
Jason Smith, acting administrator of the Division of Criminal Investigation at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said the bill would increase the number of staff in their division by four. They have 103 investigators, with about a fifth dedicated to drug enforcement.
"While heroin use remains a focus for Wisconsin law enforcement and treatment services, meth has quietly surged to a point where the number of cases, arrests and charges are on par with heroin," he told lawmakers.
AAN provides monthly updates to state society leaders. In this month’s issue:
· Oregon lawmakers introduced HB2387, targeting out-of-control prescription prices, read more here.
· The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is set to launch a new campaign in NY to fight Governor Cuomo’s plan to curb drug prices, read more here.
· The number of states that have adopted the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact stands at 18. 6 states currently have active legislation, which the AAN is supporting. The compact offers an expedited licensing process for physicians interested in practicing medicine in multiple states. Wondering how the compact works? Check out this short video!
· If you have any questions or would like to discuss how to improve your advocacy efforts, contact Grant Niver.
Federal Legislative Update
· The AAN responded to the recent executive order temporarily suspending some foreign entry into the United States by joining with medical organizations on positions from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and sending a message to members and Annual Meeting attendees. The AAN is also exploring alternative methods for researchers who may be affected by immigration policy to present their scientific research at the AAN Annual Meeting. Learn more.
· On February 17, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) reintroduced the FAST Act.
· The AAN joined 260 organizations and institutions to send a letter to President Trump and congressional leadership, urging the completion of a FY2017 budget that includes $34.1 billion for NIH.
· David Shulkin was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to become Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin served as VA undersecretary of health since 2015, is a physician and former health care executive, and will be the first VA secretary in the department's history never to have served in the military.
· Stay up-to-date on #AANAdvocacy by reading the Capitol Hill Report and following the AAN’s Senior Legislative Counsel Mike Amery on Twitter at @MikeAmeryDC.
Medical Economics Update
· The AAN Medical Economics & Management Committee (MEM) approved its regulatory priorities for 2017, which include: 1) Continuing MACRA advocacy with the goal to reduce burdens on neurologists while improving the Quality Payment Program; 2) Encouraging increased flexibilities for small and solo neurology practices; 3) Advocating for more accurate and improved cognitive reimbursement; and 4) Monitoring regulatory announcements from the new administration to outline further regulatory priorities as needed and address developments.
· Member awareness of the Axon Registry® has consistently increased. According to marketing survey results, 2015 member awareness was 19 percent; by June 2016 member awareness increased to 38 percent; as of November 2016, member awareness increased to 53 percent.
· The MEM and Government Relations committees met jointly in January to discuss collaborations for legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts on Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replacement, drug pricing and access, and physician burnout and regulatory hassle.
· For more information on AAN practice resources, visit our webpage.
AAN Membership Update
· The 2017 Insights Report is now available. The report summarizes research conducted by the AAN in 2016 and also provides demographic data on members as of year-end 2016.
· A study by the AAN of neurologists in the United States shows that 60 percent of respondents had at least one symptom of burnout, and burnout is common in all neurology practice settings and subspecialties. The study was published in the January 25, 2017, online issue of Neurology®.
· A new practice management education curriculum has been developed for residents and fellows. The first webinars, a Business Basics series, are now available and will be followed by additional topics throughout 2017. Program directors may use these brief recorded webinars to enhance the practice management knowledge of their residents and fellows.
· AAN Annual Meeting registration numbers are trending higher than Vancouver. Look for the Science Program soon for information on innovative new methods of delivering scientific information to clinicians.
Group Insurance Board members sent a letter last week to lawmakers, revealing more information on the process they used when deciding to self-fund and regionalize the health plan for state employees.
Their plan, approved last week, would shift the state away from a fully insured model, which involves 18 companies, to a model with six vendors. They estimate the move could save more than $60 million in the 2017-'19 state budget from reduced administrative and insurer risk fees as well as improved discounts. Department of Employee Trust Funds spokesman Mark Lamkins did not provide a further breakdown of the savings.
Any self-insurance contract is subject to approval by the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee.
The board selected Compcare Health Services Insurance Corp. to offer a statewide option as well as a regional option. The other companies serving regions would be Dean Health Plan, HealthPartners Administrators, Network Health Administrative Services, Security Administrative Services and Quartz, which is affiliated with Unity Health Insurance and Gundersen Health Plan.
In a letter sent Friday to JFC co-chairs, GIB Chair Mike Farrell and board member Stacey Rolston, who is a deputy administrator in the Division of Personnel Management at the Department of Administration, wrote that those participating in the state employee health plan will have greater access to providers than are currently available to most members under a proposed move to self-insurance because CompCare has a broader network.
They also wrote that providers that are part of Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, which did not respond to an RFP on administering the program, will be included via other third party administrators. In addition, Physicians Plus, which responded to the RFP but wasn't selected as a vendor, is exploring a partnership with Unity and Gundersen, according to the letter.
According to GIB, nine companies responded to the RFP. That also included Mayo Clinic Health Solutions, the self-insurance business unit of Health Traditions Health Plan, which wasn't chosen. WEA Trust also participated in the process and did not receive an offer.
GIB noted that many of the plans with minimal participant enrollment in the program chose not to respond, including Arise, Group Health Cooperative - Eau Claire, MercyCare Health Plans and Medical Associates.
But Patrick Cranley, MercyCare chief operating officer, said GIB's characterization was "a little bit disingenuous."
"We could not respond to the RFP because the RFP required that respondents be able to serve an entire region defined by the RFP," Cranley said. He called it "a conscious decision to limit the number" of plans participating in the state program.
Cranley called the board's decision an "unfortunate choice" for the wider market as it eliminates a number of high quality community health plans from participation in the health plan.
"I think it does long-term damage to the competitive insurance market in the state of Wisconsin," he said. "You're essentially perhaps even crippling some of the plans that are smaller plans that provide important competition in the markets in which they participate."
Cranley said MercyCare serves 1,400 members in Jefferson, Rock and Walworth Counties through the state plan. That's out of 48,000 total members for his plan.
"I would prefer to continue to serve these folks and let them have access to our health plan," he added.
ETF often pursues an "aggressive education campaign" to ensure participants understand their choices under the program, according to the letter. The communication strategy for 2018 "will be unprecedented," Farrell and Rolston wrote.
The board plans to finish contract negotiations by the end of March.
Read the letter.
Democratic lawmakers are circulating a proposal that would allow non-psychoactive cannabidiol oil to be manufactured in the state of Wisconsin, arguing a bill approved by the Senate last week doesn't go far enough.
The bill, authored by Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, would establish a licensure program for individuals to produce and distribute CBD oil.
Assembly lawmakers held a hearing on the Senate-approved version Wednesday. That bill allows patients to possess CBD oil without facing a state penalty if they have certification from their doctor, but doesn't allow for its sale or manufacture in Wisconsin.
Democratic lawmakers on the Assembly Committee on Children and Families questioned how people could acquire CBD oil.
"Without having dispensaries in Wisconsin, I'm worried this is not the complete fix," said Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse.
But the bill's authors said patients could purchase CBD oil online and in some neighboring states. Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said they considered including dispensaries. But he wanted to avoid regulation.
"If we took it to the regulators, we would never get this passed, not with the mindset of everybody at this point," he said. "I think the first thing we need to do is take away that fear from parents."
The Senate has approved a proposal that would lift state penalties for possession of a drug derived from marijuana used to treat seizures in children.
The bill passed 31-1, with Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, casting the no vote. An Assembly Committee is set to take up the proposal next week.
The bill, which is similar to a proposal that was blocked from passage in the Senate last year, would allow patients to possess CBD oil without facing a state penalty if they have certification from their doctor. The federal government has designated the drug Schedule I, still making it illegal.
"Parents shouldn't have to risk jail time to treat their children," the bill's author, Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said in a statement. "It is a sense of relief that we can ease the suffering and fear that too many parents experience trying to improve the lives of their children."
As you know, physicians are often assigned a role with a hospital or health system’s quality department or committee or asked to lead a quality improvement project.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has developed an important resource for physicians and advance practice providers who have an assigned role related to quality measurement and improvement within a WHA member hospital or health system. The WHA Physician Quality Academy will provide physicians the opportunity to increase their knowledge of quality improvement tools and principles; therefore, increasing the likelihood that a physician will be more successful in and comfortable with this leadership role.
The Academy offers two non-consecutive days of in-person training and access to supporting resources both between and after the live sessions.
As part of the Academy, participants will learn to:
The Academy is offered twice in 2017 (dates below), allowing physicians associated with a WHA member hospital/health system to choose the cohort that works best for his/her schedule. Attendance will be limited to the first 100 registrants per cohort, so if interested, register today at http://www.cvent.com/d/wvq5nm.
Increasing prescription drug costs have caught the attention of the President and the public. What's behind the rapid rise and how far are lawmakers willing to go?
Would allowing Medicare to negotiate with drugmakers make an impact? What about cutting taxes and regulations? And would lower prices mean less innovation? Learn more at a Wisconsin Health News Panel Event March 7 at the Madison Club (register now). Panelists:
AAN members can now join the new Neurohealth & Integrative Neurology Section and Synapse online community. The new section will be a forum to connect neurologists and practitioners who recognize the need to investigate therapies which may have potential to preserve neurologic health, promote neurologic recovery, and increase patient wellness, including non‐pharmaceutical and complementary treatments.
Membership renewal rates were strong for 2016. The goals for the number of dues-paying US neurologists and retention rate of dues-paying US neurologists were met, along with goals for retention of Early Career members and the number of medical students.
The goal was also met for the number of members applying for Fellow status with the AAN during 2016, with a total of 217 applications submitted.
The 2016 Practice Management Webinar series ended strong with a total of 637 unique registrations, which is 113 higher than 2015. The series concluded with a free webinar on MACRA and the 2017 Medicare physician fee schedule; view a Q&A document on these topics. On January 18, the 2017 series of webinars began, including recurring and new topics such as advance care planning, contracting, and coding for risk. Click here for the full list.
For more information on AAN practice resources, visit our webpage.
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