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February promises lots of legislative activity

February marks what’s likely to be the last full month of state legislative activity before the Wisconsin State Legislature adjourns for the 2017-2018 regular legislative biennium. Below are just some of the hearings and relevant bills that have made the calendar so far.

Assembly Health Committee Executive Session—February 1
Earlier today the Assembly Health Committee approved two Wisconsin Medical Society-supported bills:

  • Assembly Bill 766: License exemption of visiting sports teams’ physicians. The bill, similar to laws in surrounding states, allows a licensed physician from another state and part of a sports team visiting Wisconsin to provide medical care to team members without worrying about being accused of practicing without a license. The exemption has very limited scope, including no ability to admit patients to a local hospital. The committee approved the bill unanimously.
  • Assembly Bill 871: Intensive Care coordination program in Medicaid. The bill incentivizes successful programs aimed at reducing unnecessary emergency department visits for Medicaid patients; the Aurora Health Care and Ascension Wisconsin health care systems have shown these efforts to be cost-savers for the Medicaid program while providing focused care for patients. The bill passed unanimously.

Assembly Insurance Committee Public Hearing—February 1
This afternoon the Assembly Insurance Committee heard from Wisconsin ophthalmologists supporting Assembly Bill 876, which would require insurance companies to cover prescription eye drops refills that are requested as early as 75 percent into the initial prescription’s predicted days of use. Medicare Part D and the state’s Medicaid program already allow for early refills—reflecting a not uncommon problem for patients who have difficulty putting eyedrops into their eyes and therefore waste dosages.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee—February 6
A slew of bills is on the public hearing agenda for next Tuesday in this critical committee. Rumored to be the final public hearing date for Senate Health this session, the day is packed with relevant bills:

  • Senate Bill 232/Assembly Bill 260: Chiropractors and sports physicals. One provision of this chiropractor-supported legislation would force the state’s high schools and some colleges to accept athletic participation physicals conducted by chiropractors. The Society has strongly opposed the bill since April 2017 and has coordinated with other health care organizations to explain the importance of physician-led, comprehensive exams for young athletes. An amendment is pending that would remove the sports physicals provision from the bill; the Society will continue to strongly oppose the bill until that amendment is approved.
  • Senate Bill 684: License exemption for visiting sports teams’ physicians. This Society-supported bill is the Senate companion to AB 766 (above).
  • Senate Bill 543/Assembly Bill 653: Dense breast tissue notification for mammography examinations. The Society, like many health care entities, is neutral on this bill, which requires certain information to be provided to a patient who is found to have dense breast tissue. Federal law already requires a patient to receive certain information about mammography exams, making the new requirement more easily accomplished than a brand-new disclosure requirement.
  • Senate Bill 742: Intensive Care coordination program in Medicaid. This is the Senate companion bill to AB 871 (above).
  • Senate Bill 587: Limiting sales of dextromethorphan. Society policy MCH-029 is entirely on point with this bill that bar minors from obtaining dextromethorphan without a prescription.

Senate Labor Committee—February 14
Senate Bill 665—The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Committee’s “agreed-to” bill, which includes an artificial fee schedule for health care services. The Society is part of a coalition of health care entities opposing this proposal, in no small part due to the fact that our state’s Worker’s Compensation system is a national model, providing ready access to exceptional health care at relatively average cost per worker’s comp claim. Businesses also received a $170 million reduction in worker’s compensation insurance premiums on October 1, 2017—a fact that runs contrary to fee schedule supporters’ allegations that worker’s compensation costs are ”out of control.”

Watch future Medigrams for updates on these bills and other legislation speeding through the legislative process. Contact Mark Grapentine, JD, in the Society’s Government Relations department for more information.

Back to February 1, 2018 Medigram