Governor Evers Signs State Budget, Legislative Business Continues and Potential Community Funding is Highlighted
State Budget: Governor Tony Evers signed the 2021-23 budget on July 8th. Making headlines were the $2 billion income tax cuts over two years, mostly by lowering one tax bracket from 6.27% to 5.3%. This applies to individuals making between $23,930 to $263,480 and married couples filing taxes jointly who earn between $31,910 and $351,310.
In terms of health care, provisions detailed in last month’s Update were retained. It is worth calling out the huge advocacy win related to the permanently authorization of the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) at $104 million from all funding sources. Both Meriter and UW Health are positively impacted.
Upcoming Legislative Hearings: On Wednesday, July 28th, the Senate Committee on Health is meeting. Of particular interest is Senate Bill 394 related to advanced practice registered nurses. Proposed changes includes changes to licensure, the practice of nurse-midwifery, and prescribing authority.
On Thursday, July 29th, the Assembly Committee on Health is meeting. The companion bill to SB 394, Assembly Bill 396, is on the agenda. Also, in the committee queue are nine other bills, including Assembly Bill 181 related to newborn screening for Krabbe disease. This bill requires testing for all births whether occurring in a hospital, maternity home, or outside these settings and recognizes a parental objection exemption. There are also three bills on pharmacy: (1) Assembly Bill 281 requires pharmacy technicians to be registered by the Pharmacy Examining Board; (2) Assembly Bill 290 requires the Department of Health Services to provider reimbursement of pharmacy services under the Medical Assistance program; and (3) Assembly Bill 295 revises licensing and regulation of pharmacies and remote dispensing sites under the pharmacy practice law for sites outside traditional pharmacies.
State Awards for Behavioral Health Equity and Inclusion Projects: The Department of Health Services (DHS) announced more than $1 million in awards to nine organizations for projects designed to improve the cultural competence of service providers. In Dane County, awards were granted to:
- Centro Hispano, Madison ($46,000). This project will provide an opportunity to complete a training program and earn a certificate focused on the needs of Latinx communities.
- Hmong Institute, Madison ($75,000). This project will provide trainings on the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care.
Projects were funded by the federal Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and must be completed by September.
Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS): DHS submitted a plan to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to use roughly $350 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to improve and enhance Medicaid HCBS. This plan targets support for Wisconsin’s caregiving workforce by increasing HCBS rates as well as expanding the professional advancement opportunities for HCBS workers.
Third Opioid Settlement: The opioid crisis has impacted Wisconsinites. Three drug distributors – McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen – and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson announced a $26 billion opioid settlement with a group of state attorney generals. Wisconsin’s tentative share will be $400 million and will be released in varying amounts over 18 years. Per legislation enacted earlier this year, proceeds from the settlement will be directed as follows – 70% ($280 million) to the counties and 30% ($120 million) to the state. Attorney General Josh Kaul has until August 20th to sign the settlement, which is also contingent upon a critical mass of attorney generals also agreeing to sign on.
For more information on State of Wisconsin advocacy, legislative, policy and regulatory issues of impact to UnityPoint Health, please contact Cathy Simmons, executive director of government & external affairs for UnityPoint Health.