During the tail end of Wisconsin’s legislative session, WHA’s Public Policy Council met on March 2 to review end-of-session priorities and discuss the focus of the association’s public policy agenda moving into the 2023-2024 legislative session. The health care workforce along with regulatory and payment barriers to care remain leading issues facing hospitals and health systems, with many organizations reporting unsustainable cost increases associated with agency staff and wage inflation.
Council members spent a significant amount of time discussing the ongoing post-acute care challenges that exist in Wisconsin hospitals, which remains a challenge even as the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases has largely subsided from its January 2022 peak. WHA Senior Vice President Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk provided a preview of data from the association’s forthcoming annual workforce report to be released on March 16.
WHA Senior Vice President Government Relations Kyle O’Brien and WHA Vice President Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter updated the Council on activity in the state Legislature and Congress. O’Brien discussed “Protect the Frontline” legislation, which at the time had recently passed the state Assembly and has subsequently passed the Wisconsin State Senate (see Valued Voice story here).
O’Brien also discussed the need to continue engagement with elected officials even after the legislative session ends. If WHA members want to host meetings with their state or federal elected officials, O’Brien encouraged them to reach out to WHA government relations and advocacy staff. In addition, O’Brien said that WHA would be implementing a proactive and robust outreach program for hospitals to meet with their elected officials, as it does every summer between legislative sessions.
Hoelter provided an update of WHA’s federal advocacy efforts, a look forward to upcoming federal elections and an overview of a discussion draft put forward by the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee that focuses on future pandemic preparedness. Hoelter also encouraged members of the Public Policy Council to join WHA in attending the AHA’s Annual Meeting on April 25-26. WHA members interested in attending and joining WHA for hill visits, should contact Jon Hoelter directly or 608-274-1820.