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Society shares expertise on State Legislature proposals

Geoff Baer, MD, Michael Moll, David Bernhardt, MD, and Eric Pifel, MD, testify before the Assembly Health Committee. As the Wisconsin State Legislature races toward the end of its 2017-2018 biennium in the next two months, the Wisconsin Medical Society has been providing testimony and recommendations on various proposals in the legislative process.

This morning, Society member Eric Pifel, MD, joined with other sports physicians to support Assembly Bill 766, which would allow visiting team physicians who do not have a Wisconsin medical license the ability to give basic care to their athletes while visiting the state. The bill, which received a public hearing in the Assembly Health Committee, ensures that such a licensing exception would be for a limited time and does not include the ability to admit the athlete to a hospital or to prescribe drugs. More than 30 states have similar legislation, including all of Wisconsin’s border states.

At the same hearing, the Society registered opposition to Assembly Bill 680, which would expand the ability of pharmacists and pharmacy students to administer vaccines. The bill does not require those practitioners to enter information into the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR)—a provision the Society had requested when the bill was first being proposed. The Society’s testimony highlighted the value of WIR and how it assists physicians in gaining an accurate assessment of a patient’s medical history.

The hearing continued with Society member Lisa Maurer, MD, testifying for the Wisconsin Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (WACEP) in favor of Assembly Bill 871, which would create an Intensive Care Coordination Project in the state’s Medicaid program. The bill follows successful innovation experiences in the Aurora Health Care and Ascension Wisconsin health care systems that has helped cut down the rate of inappropriate use of hospital emergency departments in Medicaid. Under the bill, hospitals and health care systems could apply to be part of a project that incentivizes systems to involve Medicaid patients in a similar type of coordination program. WACEP offered the committee a friendly amendment: allowing a private emergency physician group to also apply to participate in the project.

The Assembly Health Committee will likely hold a voting session early in February. It is expected that AB 766 and AB 871 will advance; the future of AB 680 is in doubt.

Earlier in the week the Society provided input into Assembly Bill 798, which concerns contracting with physicians for Direct Primary Care (DPC). The bill, which received a public hearing before an Assembly committee Wednesday afternoon, would clarify the current opportunity for patients and physicians to enter into contracts for DPC. The bill also directs the state’s Department of Health Services to create a DPC pilot in the Medicaid program.

The Society’s Council on Legislation recently reviewed the bill and recommended the Society support the clarifying contracting language but oppose the Medicaid pilot unless the law requires the state to include physicians if children are included in the patient population. The Society has been working with the bill’s lead Assembly author, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, on a substitute amendment that would include such a provision.

Contact Mark Grapentine, JD, in the Society’s Government Relations Department for more information.

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