WHA Physician Leaders Council Identifies Workforce and Post-Acute Care as Biggest Hospital Capacity Challenges
The WHA Physician Leaders Council meeting on Dec. 8 largely focused on the rapid escalation of hospital capacity challenges during the current COVID-19 surge and steps being taken to manage those challenges.
In a roundtable discussion of hospital and health system physician leaders, the council quickly identified workforce and inability to discharge patients who are ready for discharge but need post-acute care as the two most pressing needs facing hospitals and health systems.
WHA staff briefed the council on available resources and efforts to address those identified priority workforce and post-acute issues.
WHA Senior Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk discussed several WHA workforce-related initiatives including working with the Department of Safety and Professional Services to expedite licenses for health care providers and utilization of subsidized agency staffing costs through a state contract, which has helped place over 400 nurses and other staff in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.
Council members also expressed concern about the impact of soaring labor costs for agency nurses and that some agencies are hiring Wisconsin nurses only to place that nurse in the same Wisconsin community but for an exorbitantly high fee.
WHA Policy Counsel Laura Leitch discussed WHA’s post-acute care work to help free up hospital beds for patients needing acute care services. The topics she discussed included WHA’s work with the Department of Health Services on waiver flexibilities and acute hospital-care-at-home programs; efforts to increase staffing at nursing homes through emergency nurse aide training programs and a tuition credit being offered by the University of Wisconsin System for students who work in health care facilities; and work to address Medicaid eligibility delays and guardianship issues.
Following the COVID-focused roundtable discussion and briefing, WHA General Counsel Matthew Stanford provided updates on key WHA advocacy priorities regarding white bagging legislation, known as Koreen’s Law; clarification on the ability for hospitals to deliver acute care in a patient’s home; continuing Medicaid telehealth flexibilities; and making key Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID waivers permanent. Stanford also provided an update on WHA’s advocacy on the Medical Examining Board’s chaperone rulemaking—an issue previously discussed by the council at its June and September meetings. Stanford discussed WHA’s economic impact comment letter submitted to the Medical Examining Board on the rule and its work with multiple health systems to quantify the significant workforce and fiscal cost of the rule as currently written. Stanford indicated the board extended the economic impact comment period until Jan. 3 and that several additional steps remain before a rule may be finalized.
This story originally appeared in the December 23, 2021 edition of WHA Newsletter