Lawmakers in Madison approved a budget bill earlier this week that sets out the state’s two-year spending plan and makes critical investments to Wisconsin’s hospitals and the state Medicaid program. The bill received unanimous support from Republicans in the Senate and the Assembly, picking up four additional Democratic votes in the Assembly and three in the Senate.
Among these investments is a permanent reauthorization of Wisconsin’s Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program. In the last state budget, lawmakers approved an increase of over $100 million for DSH—the largest increase to the program since its inception in 2013; however, the increase was only authorized for two years. WHA’s chief priority in this budget was to ensure that hospitals would continue to receive this funding and build on this program by making it an ongoing, “base” appropriation.
WHA actively engaged with state lawmakers through public testimony by hospital/health system leaders, including leaders from UW Health, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System and Beloit Health System, and through direct lobbying in the state Capitol to achieve this outcome. In addition, WHA members made many contacts to their state elected officials in support of a permanent reauthorization of DSH along with nearly 40 virtual meetings coordinated by WHA to help hospital advocates lobby their elected officials on the state budget.
“WHA had several key champions in the Legislature during this budget process,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “We are very grateful for their strong support of our state’s hospitals. But this does not happen by chance; it is a result of hospitals working closely with their lawmakers and WHA to educate and advocate on behalf of hospital priorities like DSH.”
In addition, WHA was a part of several coalitions that saw successes in this budget, including a coalition that achieved $10 million in funding set aside to regionalize mental health crisis resources and another that successfully worked with the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for women another 30 days.
The Legislature and the JFC also authorized over $500 million in state funds (and over $2.6 billion all funds) to continue operating the state Medicaid program under current eligibility criteria.
The budget now heads to Governor Evers’ desk, where he is largely expected to, at a minimum, use the governor’s veto pen before signing the budget bill into law.