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State Capitol Update; Worker’s comp, state budget

Although the Memorial Day holiday made for a shorter week, policy work continued in Madison–including on two areas of interest for the Society.

Worker’s Compensation
The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) met again today, with Labor and Management sides almost immediately adjourning to closed caucuses for negotiations towards an “agreed-to” bill proposal for the 2019-20 legislative session. The Society is one of four health care liaisons to the WCAC, who are part of the WCAC ostensibly in an advisory role to prevent “agreed-to” proposals from having a negative effect on the health care portion of the worker’s compensation (WC) system.

After returning from caucuses, the two sides reviewed a letter from the health care liaisons with initial feedback on Labor and Management’s opening proposals for this session’s process. The letter highlights displeasure with Management proposal #5, which once again attempts to create a fundamental change in how physicians and others are paid for providing WC care–this session’s effort changes the fee dispute process in a manner that would reduce WC payments to the level of negotiated group health rates.

The WCAC has failed to enact past “agreed-to” bills in two of the last three state legislative biennial sessions due to health care’s adamant objections over previous bill’s attempts to create an arbitrary health care services fee schedule. The Society and other liaisons believe there is no need for such a fundamental change to the system, especially considering that currently injured workers have ready access to high quality health care that is effective, efficient and cost-effective for employers.

The WCAC’s next meeting is scheduled for June 25.

Biennial State Budget
The state legislature’s powerful Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) met just once this week as members continue to make changes to Governor Tony Evers’ proposed 2019-21 state biennial budget. One of the major issue areas remaining is the Medicaid program, which could be taken up as soon as next Tuesday, although the official schedule has not yet been released.

It’s expected that the JCF, which legislative Republicans control on a 12-4 margin, will likely handle the Medicaid budget via one large “omnibus” motion. That motion will likely be based off of information gleaned from informational papers prepared by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau–some of the relevant Medicaid papers can be viewed here. The Society continues to advocate for a Medicaid physician services rate increase for specialties whose current reimbursement levels are either at or near the bottom nationally; the Fiscal Bureau points out in one paper that a broad-based physician reimbursement increase hasn’t happened since 2008. The Society has also suggested that adding additional GME training capacity slots for psychiatrists is another way to help address the physician workforce shortage that is so apparent in behavioral health.

Contact Mark Grapentine, JD, Lisa Davidson, or HJ Waukau for more information.

Back to May 30, 2019 Medigram