Gov. Evers signed Wisconsin's biennial budget into law today, July 8, including WHA's chief priority of permanently reauthorizing $104 million in Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding for Wisconsin hospitals. This action ensures that gains achieved in the last state budget, which were authorized as one-time funding, are not only reauthorized, but will be built into the base budget moving forward.
As covered in last week's edition
of The Valued Voice
, the Wisconsin state Legislature approved the budget last week with bipartisan support in both chambers. That budget, along with its critical investments for Wisconsin's hospitals and the Medicaid program, remains largely intact in the version Gov. Evers signed today.
In a statement following the governor’s bill signing ceremony, WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding said, “WHA applauds the Governor and the Legislature for both committing to critical hospital funding provided in this state budget. Today’s action by the Governor is the final step to ensure that $104 million in critical Disproportionate Share Hospital funding, which is provided to those hospitals serving a higher number of Medicaid patients, will not be cut in this next budget and can be relied on for future budgets.”
Borgerding also acknowledged the past progress the Legislature has made on improving Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding. “WHA has worked for the last decade, with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, to improve DSH funding for our state’s hospitals. Today’s action is additional progress on this aim, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, and would not have been possible without the strong support of several key champions in the Legislature, including members of the Joint Finance Committee, and the Governor,” Borgerding said.
In addition to making this critical DSH funding permanent, the budget bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Evers includes over $500 million in state General Purpose Revenue to continue operating the Medicaid program under current eligibility criteria. When matched with federal revenues, this additional state funding ensures that the Medicaid program has over $2.6 billion to meet existing needs.
The budget bill also provides $10 million to develop regionalized mental health crisis resources and extends postpartum Medicaid coverage for women by 30 days, both items WHA joined with a coalition of respective partners to support in the legislative process.
Finally, the budget bill includes additional, WHA-supported investments in broadband expansion and additional investments in the Wisconsin Health Care Stability Plan to further stabilize or potentially reduce health insurance premiums for individuals.
WHA worked hard to gain support for its priorities this budget, holding 40 virtual meetings with lawmakers, bringing members to speak at all Joint Finance Committee hearings and directly lobbying key members of the Legislature. In addition, WHA activated its Hospitals Education & Advocacy Team (HEAT) network to gain support from the Legislature to include these health care priorities and ask for Gov. Evers to sign them into law.