Governor Tony Evers recently signed into state law two legislative bills that were WHA priorities for the 2019-20 biennial session.
Telehealth Improvement (Senate Bill 380
) Gov. Evers approved Senate Bill 380 at a bill-signing ceremony Nov. 25 at The Richland Hospital in Richland Center. Bruce Roesler, the hospital’s CEO, was invited to speak at the ceremony, which also included Wisconsin Department of Human Services Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm and WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding.
“The bill Governor Evers is signing into law today brings more parity between inperson and telehealth-provided care and removes outdated barriers to delivering and receiving care through telehealth,” Borgerding said. “This is especially important for expanding access to critical areas of care like behavioral health, where the need for services is being increasingly understood and growing rapidly.”
Numerous studies, including Wisconsin’s own state employee health insurance program, have determined that creating access to care through telehealth is a cost-effective strategy for the state’s Medicaid program. The legislation is the culmination of three years of work by WHA’s Telemedicine Work Group, and includes provisions implementing the work group’s four recommendations for the state’s Medicaid program:
- Cover telehealth the same as in-person care when the quality of the care provided is functionally equivalent.
- Catch up to Medicare in the number of covered telehealth-related services.
- Cover in-home or community telehealth services.
- Increase access to behavioral health via telehealth.
The bill enjoyed widespread, bipartisan support – more than 60 state legislators signed on as supporters of the bill, which saw unanimous approval during State Assembly and State Senate floor sessions. Borgerding thanked Gov. Evers, DHS Secretarydesignee Palm, State Sens. Dale Kooyenga and Janet Bewley, State Assembly Reps. Amy Loudenbeck and Deb Kolste and legislators for coming together to pass and enact this important legislation.
“This is a great example of bipartisanship, working across the aisle to address the needs of Wisconsin,” Borgerding said. “WHA is extremely proud to be a part of this type of legislation, which bridges political divides and for the purpose of improving care – a priority for everyone.”
In his remarks, Borgerding also singled out the work of the WHA lobbying and advocacy team, which he called “second-to -none” in Wisconsin, and also thanked the members of WHA’s telehealth task force for their work in crafting this hallmark legislation
See WHA’s public statement here
Look for an announcement soon in The Valued Voice regarding more detailed education from WHA regarding the new law, officially enacted as 2019 Act 56
. Contact WHA Vice President of Policy Development Laura Rose
or WHA General Counsel Matthew Stanford
for additional information about 2019 Act 56.
Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (Senate Bill 74)
Gov. Evers signed a bill Nov. 22 at Prescott High School ensuring that Wisconsin will remain a member of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), a 29-state agreement that allows a less-cumbersome path for physicians wishing to hold medical licenses in multiple states.
A sunset clause in state statutes would have automatically removed Wisconsin from the IMLC absent proactive legislative action – a condition that was necessary to ensure passage during the 2015-16 legislative session. This session’s legislation, Senate Bill 74
, eliminates the sunset clause from the lawbooks, ensuring Wisconsin health care can continue to benefit from the successful licensing process.
“The compact has proven to be a useful option that can make Wisconsin’s medical licensing process more efficient,” Borgerding said in this press release
praising the bill signing. “So we thank Governor Evers and the entire state Legislature for supporting the new law.
“We’re grateful to see so much bipartisan support in a priority area for WHA: easing the administrative burden for health care professionals,” Borgerding said, highlighting another WHA-promoted bill with enormous bipartisan support.