Public Policy Council Discusses Elections, State Budget and COVID Response
Members of WHA’s Public Policy Council met on September 2, roughly two months prior to the November 2020 general election, to learn about WHA’s biannual work to engage candidates running for office and discuss recent policy actions at a state and federal level, largely to provide relief and support for hospitals and health systems responding to COVID-19.
WHA’s political team briefed the council about competitive races for the state Assembly and state Senate and how they could impact the makeup of the Legislature going into 2021. WHA also briefed the council on various election-related activity, including one-on-one virtual meetings with candidates and feedback from candidates on health care issues.
“Our government relations team does not stop during the ‘off-season’,” WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding said. “If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has created even more relevance and demand for the policy knowledge, expertise and influence that our team brings to issues impacting Wisconsin’s hospitals. WHA’s role as the leading health care voice in Madison and with our state’s congressional delegation has been strongly reaffirmed during COVID and will be critical as we face a very challenging state budget.”
WHA Senior Vice President of Government Relations Kyle O’Brien discussed the status of Wisconsin’s current state budget and how that might impact key WHA priorities moving into the next legislative session. While the Medicaid program has a small state revenue surplus, lawmakers remain concerned with the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the state’s finances.
“WHA and our members have faced similar advocacy headwinds before,” O’Brien said. “But 2020 is different, as hospitals have been the state’s most critical partner in responding to the COVID-19 needs in every corner of Wisconsin. As we’ve done in years past, WHA will work hard alongside our members to remind elected officials how hospitals have stepped up to serve our state’s patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and how lawmakers can support hospitals through funding and regulatory relief in the upcoming legislative session.”
Director of Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter was joined by Dan Boston, president of Health Policy Source and one of The Hill’s “Top Lobbyists,” to discuss the prospects of future COVID legislation from Congress and WHA’s influence with leaders at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the state’s congressional delegation. Hoelter briefed the council on weekly conversations WHA has with leading staff from Wisconsin’s delegation and WHA’s work to engage members of Congress through virtual roundtables with district hospitals.
“You [WHA] are engaged in conversations that other state hospital associations aren’t because of your ability to stay above the political fray and successfully navigate the complicated politics of COVID,” Boston said. “That’s a benefit to you and your members.”
This story originally appeared in the September 03, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter