Joint Finance Committee (JFC) Co-Chair Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) joined WHA Southern Region leaders as the guest of honor at their spring dinner in Madison on March 13, 2023. At his third outing at this annual event, Marklein started his remarks by thanking hospitals, “Thank you for the service you provide to communities.” He added, “You are huge employers and essential to the quality of life in your communities.”
WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding provided opening remarks noting the positive changes Marklein and Wisconsin legislators have accomplished in partnership with WHA and WHA members, including changes to DHS Chapter 124, Rural Wisconsin Initiative investments and the Medicaid Disproportionate Share (DSH) funding program.
Marklein recognized WHA’s strong voice as helping move DHS Chapter 124 legislation forward rapidly, noting, “We started it in February, and it was done in March.”
The senator also recognized the value of the DSH program funding, and how the Joint Finance Committee will consider such items in their budget review process.
Marklein further explained that although JFC will start from the base, he is also open to new policy. “If you have something new that you really believe in be prepared to come and advocate for that, you have a good story to tell,” said Marklein.
Noting “hospitals have had a tough three years” Marklein also recognized key issues that are creating an even more challenging environment. “I am fully aware of not having beds available and what that creates,” said Marklein. “I want to be sure the dollars that are being invested are being used to solve the problem,” he added.
In the two hours he spent with Southern Region leaders, Marklein emphasized the important role WHA and hospital leaders play in helping legislators understand the issues and the impact of proposed legislation. “You need to keep me educated… that is part of your role,” said Marklein. “Every one of you should have a personal relationship with your local legislators,” Marklein continued.
Southern Region leaders shared their stories, perspectives and issues with Marklein, including the impact of workforce shortages, licensure delays, the increasingly stretched thin safety net that hospitals provide to their communities and the challenges presented by payer practices, such as lengthy pre-authorization, denials and utilization review.
Marklein and the hospital leaders in attendance recognized the importance of the connection and partnerships lawmakers and hospital leaders form on behalf of their communities and shared their appreciation for Marklein’s leadership.