President's Column

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Proactive Legislative Agenda Helps WI Rank High for Physicians, But More to be Done

By Eric Borgerding, WHA President and CEO, and Mark Kaufman, MD, WHA Chief Medical Officer
recent study from WalletHub ranks Wisconsin as the second-best state in the nation for physicians to practice medicine. This study used 18 metrics grouped into two categories: Opportunity & Competition and Medical Environment. Wisconsin ranked #1 in two metrics related to our favorable and balanced malpractice environment. 

Like many other studies that rank Wisconsin favorably for health care, the WalletHub results illustrate the importance of a targeted and proactive public policy agenda that positively impacts Wisconsin’s health care environment. The Wisconsin Hospital Association has a very concerted, multi-pronged public policy strategy aimed at creating an environment that attracts more physicians to Wisconsin and keeps more physicians practicing in Wisconsin.  

We have enacted and sustained a rational, balanced and fair medical malpractice environment that, frankly, probably attracts more doctors to Wisconsin than trial lawyers. We have enacted policies here that encourage and, equally important, protect in the courtroom care improvement work of hospitals and physicians. These types of policies are important when recruiting physicians to come to Wisconsin, especially from states where ads for trial lawyers touting mega malpractice payouts are seemingly ubiquitous.

In Wisconsin, we’re leveraging public policy to help foster better health care, and it’s working.  Wisconsin consistently ranks as having one of the best and safest health care systems in the country. This performance, and now reputation, is attractive to physicians. We also have very high levels of people covered by health insurance; in fact, we have one of the lowest uninsured rates in the country, which leads to greater access to care. This is largely due to public policies we’ve enacted to make health insurance coverage available and more affordable to every person in the state. 

Wisconsin is also investing in medical education, including expanding our medical school capacity and greatly increasing our post-graduate residency opportunities. Once out of school and in full practice, we are streamlining and expediting licensure for physicians so they can take care of patients in multiple settings using the latest in telehealth technology. These and many other attributes are why Wisconsin ranks highly in so many national health care surveys.

But, there is more to be done. WHA is working hard to make Wisconsin an even better place for physicians to practice medicine and provide high quality and affordable care to patients. WHA’s 2019 physician-specific advocacy priorities include advancing telemedicine, improving physician well-being, reducing the regulatory burden on physicians, expanding graduate medical education residency slots, and increasing Medicaid physician reimbursement. 

We are also ramping up our educational offerings, including adding this year a new, and very well received, senior physician leader track to our Physician Leadership Development Conference in Kohler (now in its 14th year). This year, we are also addressing caregiver resiliency, partnering with Duke Health and the Wisconsin Medical Society to offer a monthly webinar series aimed at providing common sense, actionable education and strategies for all members of the health care team. Some 800 people and groups are participating in this great program every month. 

These are all elements of WHA’s intentional and ongoing strategy to make Wisconsin an attractive place for talented and dedicated professionals to pursue a fulfilling career…caring for patients. More to be done, more to come.
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