Dear WSP Members,
I want to provide some important society updates as we approach the end of another fiscal year. It has obviously been a challenging few months for all of us as we work through dramatic changes to work and personal lives due to COVID-19. For the society, we unfortunately had to cancel our Spring, 2020, educational conference, as many other societies did as well. Since we would normally hold elections for new board members at our annual conference, we decided to continue with current slate of board members until we are able to hold new elections, likely in Spring, 2021.
The upcoming 2020-2021 year brings similar challenges. Our society has two major components, one being educational and one related to advocacy. We are actively discussing educational plans for the next year. At this point it is not clear whether or not an in person conference will be possible for Spring, 2021. As we see how COVID-19 evolves over the coming months we will continue to meet and discuss alternate educational plans, such as webinar based education.
On the advocacy front, we will continue to work with the College of American Pathologists and the Wisconsin Medical Society on legislative issues important to pathology. Of particular significance is out-of-network billing, which has seen varying degrees of attention from state and national legislatures over the past few years. This issue will likely resurface in some form during the coming year and it will be critical for our society to continue to represent Wisconsin pathologists.
Finally, recognizing the financial impact COVID-19 has put on individuals, we are discounting our normal membership dues from $175 to $100 annually for active and associate members and will extend complementary memberships to residents. We want to balance concern for individual finances with the need for the society to continue to survive and provide education and advocacy for pathologists. We are dependent on member dues for continued existence, especially absent an educational conference, which would normally help increase revenue. We hope that you continue to see value in being a member of the Wisconsin Society of Pathologists. Our board will certainly continue to work to bring high quality educational content to our members, provide a forum for networking, and serve as the advocate for Wisconsin pathologists.
June 18, Wisconsin Health News
The state’s medical malpractice fund is waiving premiums for the next fiscal year for participating healthcare professionals and providers.
The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund’s Board of Governors approved the premium holiday on Wednesday.
The holiday, originally requested by the Wisconsin Medical Society, will run from July 1 to June 30, 2021.
Dr. Bud Chumbley, CEO of the Wisconsin Medical Society and a board member, said the action will “provide some financial relief to many of the Wisconsin medical professionals and providers who have been affected by the pandemic and who face ongoing challenges.”
The fund covers claims beyond state-mandated insurance limits, which are set at $1 million by occurrence and $3 million by aggregate per year.
In April, lawmakers signed off on a plan not to increase participation fees for the fund for the next fiscal year.
Governor Evers today announced Wisconsin's "Badger Bounce Back" plan which outlines important criteria for Wisconsin to be able to reopen its economy in phases and includes steps to make sure workers and businesses are prepared to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. In coordination with this announcement, at the direction of the governor, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order #31 establishing the process and outlining the phases of the plan. The emergency order is available here.
The Badger Bounce Back plan is informed in part by the President's Guidelines for Opening Up America Again that was issued by the White House on April 16, 2020. Currently, Wisconsin does not meet the criteria the White House established to start reopening our state. The Badger Bounce Back plan takes important steps to get the state of Wisconsin there.
The goal of the Badger Bounce Back plan is to decrease cases and deaths to a low level, and increase capacity in our healthcare system so the phased reopening of businesses is possible. As part of that plan the state will be working to increase access to more testing and expand lab capacity. Under the Badger Bounce Back plan, everyone who needs a test should get a test. The state is setting a goal of 85,000 tests per week, averaging about 12,000 tests per day. More information on the state's testing efforts was released earlier today, and is available for review here.
Next, the state will be expanding contact tracing and more aggressively tracking the spread with the goal of every Wisconsinite who tests positive being interviewed within 24 hours of receiving their test results and their contacts being interviewed within 48 hours of test results.
Additionally, the state will continue to pursue every avenue to grow Wisconsin’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare and public safety entities to conduct COVID-19 testing, patient care, and public safety work. Finally, the plan works to bolster healthcare system capacity where patients can be treated without crisis care and there are more robust testing programs in place for at-risk healthcare workers.
The state will be looking for a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-19 symptoms reported within a 14-day period, and a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period. When the state has seen these efforts be successful, Wisconsin can begin to turn the dial, re-open the state, and get businesses and workers back on their feet.
The Badger Bounce Back plan is available here. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s portion of the Badger Bounce Back plan aimed at helping to ensure workers and businesses are prepared and ready to bounce back is available here. The Badger Bounce Back plan in brief is also available here.
The State Legislature passed, and the Governor has signed, the state's COVID-19 response package, which includes liability immunity provisions. A late amendment broadens the measure and ensures there is no ambiguity about protections applying to COVID and non-COVID patients alike.
The legislation also includes provisions that will help the state draw down additional federal dollars for Medicaid as well as a provision related to out of network billing.
Below is the liability immunity language as adopted.
SECTION 98. 895.4801 of the statutes is created to read:
895.4801 Immunity for health care providers during COVID-19 emergency.
(1) DEFINITIONS. In this section:
(a) “Health care professional” means an individual licensed, registered, or certified by the medical examining board under subch. II of ch. 448 or the board of nursing under ch. 441.
(b) “Health care provider” has the meaning given in s. 146.38 (1) (b) and includes an adult family home, as defined in s. 50.01 (1).
(2) IMMUNITY. Subject to sub. (3), any health care professional, health care provider, or employee, agent, or contractor of a health care professional or health care provider is immune from civil liability for the death of or injury to any individual or any damages caused by actions or omissions that satisfy all of the following:
(a) The action or omission is committed while the professional, provider, employee, agent, or contractor is providing services during the state of emergency declared under s. 323.10 on March 12, 2020, by executive order 72, or the 60 days following the date that the state of emergency terminates.
(b) The actions or omissions relate to health services provided or not provided in good faith or are substantially consistent with any of the following:
(c) The actions or omissions do not involve reckless or wanton conduct or intentional misconduct.
(3) APPLICABILITY. This section does not apply if s. 257.03, 257.04, 323.41, or 323.44 applies.
Governor Evers today directed Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to extend the Safer at Home order from April 24, 2020 to 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued. The order implements some new measures to ensure safety and support the progress we've made in containing COVID-19, but also allows certain activities to start up again.
The extension of the Safer at Home order includes a few changes. Some changes allow more businesses and activities to open back up, while other changes help make businesses safer for employees and customers.
The changes in this order go into effect on April 24, 2020. The order will remain in effect until 8 a.m. on May 26, 2020.
The order is available online (link). The Governor’s full press release is also available online (link).
Governor Evers announced that the state is seeking volunteers to support Wisconsin's healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Active and retired healthcare professionals and those who wish to help in non-clinical support positions are encouraged to sign up to volunteer through the Wisconsin Emergency Assistance Volunteer Registry (WEAVR).
The number of patients in Wisconsin who need to be treated for COVID-19 is expected to surge in the coming weeks. Building a network of available volunteers now will greatly reduce the hardships on hospitals and clinics that would not normally have the capacity to care for the increase in patients.
Both active and retired healthcare professionals can volunteer for critical clinical roles by entering their information into the WEAVR, a secure, password-protected, web-based volunteer registration system for healthcare and behavioral health professionals. Individuals who are not licensed professionals are also encouraged to sign up to volunteer for non-clinical support positions.
Volunteers will be assigned to locations across Wisconsin to support ongoing efforts related to the COVID-19 national emergency. Those who are willing to travel should note that when they sign up. All volunteers should also be aware that they will be required to complete a background check.
The full copy of the Governor’s press release is available online (link).
A new Marquette Law School poll of Wisconsin registered voters finds strong support for government actions to control the coronavirus pandemic, even as the poll also shows these actions to be having a substantial financial impact on voters.
The survey found:
A full copy of the survey is available online (link).
The Department of Health Services announced the creation of the Resilient Wisconsin Initiative (website) on Friday, which provides Wisconsinites with resources to cope with stress and mental health challenges from COVID-19.
DHS recommends that Wisconsinites do the following:
· Get the three goods. That’s good-for-you foods, a good night’s sleep, and a good amount of exercise every day.
· Stay connected to your support system. Reach out to family and friends, colleagues, and community groups in whatever way you can—calls, texts, video chats, and more.
· Spend time away from focusing on COVID-19. Don’t let the pandemic take over what you read, watch, or talk about. And don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to talk about something else.
· Reduce anxiety by reducing your risk. Stay safer at home. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Stay at least 6 feet apart while running essential errands at the store, pharmacy, or gas station. Knowing you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy can help you worry less.
· Check in with yourself. Everyone’s reaction to stress is different. Difficulty concentrating or sleeping, irritability, fatigue, and even stomachaches can be normal. But if you find you are overwhelmed or having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, reach out for help right away. Text HOPELINE to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, there are wide-ranging resources available for physicians and health care professionals. However, identifying which resources would benefit your health care practice is difficult. The Wisconsin Medical Society (WisMed), gener8tor and WisMed Assure are here to help protect your practice and your employees.
Join gener8tor, WisMed and WisMed Assure for a free webinar about the government resources available to independent physicians and health care practices, as it relates to the stimulus package.
Here are just some of the great topics that will be covered:
· Which federal grant/loan programs is my business eligible for?
· SBA Disaster Loan (e.g. Economic Injury Disaster Loan or EIDL)
· CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Register below to receive the link for the live webinar.
When: April 7 at 7 a.m.
The webinar will be made available as a COVID-19 resource on the Society's website after the event.
Governor Evers today announced a second package of comprehensive legislative proposals that would provide critical investments in health services, support for essential workers, and assistance for Wisconsin families and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s announcement today comes just days after Gov. Evers announced a first piece of legislation, which included additional funding and flexibility for public health professionals and healthcare professionals, a repeal of the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance, expanding and improving access to telehealth services, among many other proposals.
As additional needs and issues arise from agencies and stakeholders, the governor is committed to working with legislators to find bipartisan solutions. The governor’s office welcomes the opportunity to hear and consider any proposals that legislators have to address the impacts of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of Wisconsin residents, businesses and communities.
This package, among many other proposals, includes:
The Governor’s first COVID-19-related legislation was introduced last week as LRB-5920 and is available here for review. A brief explanation of LRB-5920 is available here. A brief explanation of the governor’s second round of proposed legislation announced today is available online (link).