Improve the health of the people of Wisconsin by supporting and strengthening physicians' ability to practice high-quality patient care in a changing environment.

Legislative session hits February frenzy

With the final few weeks of the state legislative session underway, many bills of interest are making rapid progress through both the State Assembly and State Senate. With the Assembly possibly ending its regular session before the end of the month (the Senate likely will continue into March), the Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) is following certain bills with particular interest:

  • AB 549/SB 453—This proposal would allow physical therapists to independently order x-rays for patients. The Society joined with the Wisconsin Radiological Society opposing the bill, citing concerns over proper diagnosis, patient health care records continuity and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ policy to not pay for imaging ordered by a physical therapist.
    The Society does support an amendment to the bill establishing physician supervision over such ordering. That amendment failed to gain approval from the Assembly Health Committee on Wednesday, which then voted to approve AB 549 on an 8-2 vote. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on SB 453 later the same day; a committee vote is likely to be scheduled soon.

  • Any debate over this session’s worker’s compensation legislation is tame compared to the furor that derailed the last session’s effort. Unlike that 2013-2014 session legislation, this session’s AB 724/SB 536 avoids major changes to how physicians and other health care entities care for injured workers. AB 724—the Assembly result of the usual “agreed-to” process from the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council—passed an Assembly committee unanimously on Wednesday. SB 536 was amended Thursday morning in a Senate committee (the issue has to do with newspaper carriers) and then passed as amended. The houses will need to reconcile the bills before a final version is sent to the Governor’s desk.

  • A bill only recently introduced related to Lyme disease also received an Assembly Health Committee hearing Wednesday. AB 768 would require the state’s Medical Examining Board (MEB) to promulgate rules detailing best practices for diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. The bill’s authors—a bipartisan trio of Rep. David Craig (R-Big Bend), Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere)—all shared stories of constituents claiming to endure various delayed diagnosis and treatment for Lyme disease. Society member and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health pediatrician James Conway, MD, appeared before the committee to agree with the authors’ call for better understanding of Lyme disease, while respectfully pointing out that the MEB is not best suited for such a role.

Other bills are headed for the legislative finish line; e-mail Mark Grapentine, JD, or Chris Rasch in the Society’s Government and Legal Affairs Department for updates.

Information about these and other bills the Society is tracking can be found here.

Back to February 4, 2016 Medigram