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Public Health Capitol Report - October 2011
The October 2011 version of the Public Health Report from Hoven Consulting is published for WPHA members. Articles cover a variety of topics, including: election re-cap, political news and public health news and notes.
from around Wisconsin
A bill to create a workplace wellness tax credit for Wisconsin small businesses (
) was recently approved by legislative committee in both houses of the Legislature. According to the bill’s authors – Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) and Rep. John Murtha (R-Baldwin) – and several independent studies, workplace wellness programs have shown to improve the health of employees and their families and provide a return on investment for businesses in the form of reduced health care costs and utilization rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every $1 invested in wellness programs, businesses can save $3 to $7 in costs.
The legislation is the top legislative priority for
both WPHA and WALHDAB in the current legislative session.
Late last month the WI Department of Health Services (DHS) issued a
to the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee (JFC) on the financial condition of the state's Medicaid program and the ongoing efforts to implement cost-savings measures in the program. Based on the latest DHS projections, the Department must identify and implement $554 million in savings to balance the program in the current state budget cycle.
The report outlines efficiency measures already underway and proposed a series of new steps to reduce Medicaid spending. Proposals include hiring additional auditors to reduce fraud, enhancing eligibility screening and ensuring individuals exhaust private insurance before receiving Medicaid benefits. The report also proposes certain modifications to physician reimbursement rates and includes plans to create several Patient Centered Medical Home programs for certain Medicaid populations.
Complete details on the Department’s cost-savings initiative have yet to be released and many of the individual proposals will require approval by JFC the federal government. To read the full DHS report, please
State Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) have introduced legislation (
) that would repeal the Healthy Youth Act – legislation passed last year to “modernize” sex education in Wisconsin schools. Under the Healthy Youth Act, schools that choose to provide human growth and development education must ensure the curriculum is medically accurate and age-appropriate. Senate Bill 237 (and AB 337) would overturn the current law, including a provision that requires human growth and development education to include information on the proper use of contraceptives.
Both WPHA and WALHDAB officially oppose the legislation.
Earlier this month, the state Senate passed legislation (
) that would prohibit insurance plans offered under Wisconsin’s health care exchange from covering abortions, except in cases of sexual assault and when it is medically necessary to save the life of the mother or prevent grave, long-term medical problems. Wisconsin must implement a health care exchange by 2014 as required by the federal health care reform law. Senate Bill 92 was passed on a party-line 17-16 vote and will now be considered by the state Assembly.
Both WPHA and WALHDAB are currently monitoring the legislatioon.
State Reps. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) and Chris Taylor (D-Madison) plan to introduce legislation – dubbed the
Healthy Woman-Healthy Families Act
– to overturn funding reductions and statutory restrictions placed on Wisconsin family planning programs as part of the 2011-13 state budget bill. In addition to reversing the 10% cut to family planning programs, the bill would do the following:
Repeal current law that prohibits the WI Department of Health Services from providing family planning funds to organizations that provide abortions or make referrals for abortion services.
Restore family planning services for eligible males.
Return income eligibility requirements for family planning services to pre-budget levels.
Both WPHA and WALHDAB support the legislative proposal
(pending approval by the WPHA-WALHDAB Joint Public Affairs Committee).
from around Wisconsin
Wisconsin Democratic Party officials have said
efforts to recall Gov. Scott Walker will begin on Nov. 15
. Recall supporters will have 60 days to collect just over 540,000 signatures statewide to force a recall.
State Democrats are touting a recent poll, commissioned by the Party and conducted by an independent polling firm, which shows a majority of Wisconsin residents support recalling Walker. In addition, the poll found that 52% of respondents disapproved of Walker’s job performance and 53% said the state was headed in the wrong direction.
Although plans are underway to recall Gov. Walker, not a single Democrat has stepped forward to say they would challenge Walker if a recall election is actually held. However, several high profile democrats have said they would consider a bid, including state Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), former Congressman Dave Obey and former Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk. Conversely, current Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) has said he is not considering a bid.
Gov. Walker recently unveiled a
to tout his Administration’s fiscal reforms for local governments. State Democrats claim the site is essentially a Walker campaign tool funded with state tax dollars and are filing a complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.
Republican and Democratic Party officials are likely to pursue
another round of Senate recall elections
, as a new crop of senators become eligible for recall next month. The first round of recalls held this summer saw the GOP’s control of the Senate shrink to a one-seat majority. New recall efforts could flip control of the Senate and would serve to further inflame the state’s already turbulent political environment.
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, recently issued an opinion that recall elections targeting sitting state senators held before Nov. 6, 2012, would be conducted using current legislative district boundaries. Earlier this year, as required by law, the GOP-controlled Legislature approved a plan to redraw legislative districts based on the latest U.S. Census data. The new districts, which will be implemented in 2012 and remain in place for the following decade, are considered more favorable for Republicans.
Former WI Gov. Tommy Thompson says he will run for U.S. Senate in 2012 to replace the retiring Herb Kohl (D), but he will not make an official announcement until the spring.
Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) recently made his bid for U.S. Senate in 2012 official. In his announcement, he pointed to his record of making tough choices and “trying to change the status quo” in Wisconsin as the strength of his candidacy.
Former Democratic state Sen. Kevin Shibilski recently announced he is considering a run for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District seat in 2012. The seat is currently held by freshman GOP Congressman Sean Duffy. Another former Democratic state senator, Pat Kreitlow of Chippewa Falls, has already announced his candidacy.
Earlier this month, La Crosse County Supervisor Jill Billings won the Democratic primary in the special election for the 95th Assembly District. Billings will face Republican candidate David Drewes in the Nov. 8 general election. The special election was called to replace Jennifer Shilling, who successfully ran for state Senate in this summer’s recall elections.
Democratic state Senators Spencer Coggs and Tim Carpenter both recently announced they will run for Milwaukee treasurer in the spring 2012 election.
Public Health Capitol Report - October 2011
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