April’s hot topics in Wisconsin health care


Wisconsin makes high marks on transparency

  • Ozaukee is the state’s healthiest county
  • Wisconsin Action Coalition receives $150K nursing grant
  • DHS says primary care rate increase could cost us
  • A new study says long-term care costs more in Wisconsin
  • State to receive $830,000 for navigators

Each month, in addition to marketing and communications posts, I will be exploring new issues impacting Wisconsin’s hospitals and health systems. In partnership and orientation with the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA), this blog will feature headlines and hot button issues concerning Wisconsin hospitals, clinics and organizations. Here, you’ll read about information on new legislation, hospital measurement and performance initiatives and the tools and resources you need to understand and manage today’s current, complex and controversial health care issues.

We look forward to bringing you this information!

Wisconsin makes high marks on transparency

Wisconsin scored high marks in a report card on price transparency released in March by the Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. Wisconsin got a ‘B,’ one of only five states to do so. Massachusetts and New Hampshire received an ‘A’, while 29 states were given an ‘F’ and another seven got a ‘D.’

To read more, CLICK HERE.

Ozaukee is the state’s healthiest county

According to the 2013 County Health Rankings released in March by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ozaukee county is the healthiest. The state’s five healthiest counties are: Ozaukee, Kewaunee, St. Croix, Pierce, and Door. Menominee is the least healthiest county, followed by Milwaukee, Marquette, Adams, and Forest.

For details, CLICK HERE.

Wisconsin Action Coalition receives $150K nursing grant

The Wisconsin Action Coalition will receive a two-year, $150,000 matching grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help prepare the state’s nursing workforce for the future. Wisconsin is one of 20 states receiving a total of $3 million. The Action Coalition is led by the Wisconsin Center for Nursing and the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative.

Their aim is to have 80% of nurses reach the BSN level by 2020, boost the number of nurses serving on boards, and increase diversity in the profession.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

DHS says primary care rate increase could cost Wisconsin

The Department of Health Services (DHS) estimates that Wisconsin could be responsible for an additional $500,000 because of a federal health reform law provision boosting Medicaid rates for primary care doctors over the next two years.

Under the provision, the federal government picks up the tab for making Medicaid rates for certain primary care services on par with Medicare rates – an expected 78% boost for Wisconsin doctors. For a many states, including Wisconsin, the increase won’t be free. That’s because they scaled back Medicaid payments after the July 2009 cut-off.

Meanwhile, DHS is still working on getting the payments, which went into effect January 1, 2013, expunged. DHS blames the delay on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ late release of the final rule, and the “significant systems changes it entails to properly report these claims” to CMS.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

A new study says long-term care costs more in Wisconsin

According to a Genworth study, compared to the rest of the country, Wisconsin is a more expensive place to spend time in an assisted living facility or nursing home. The median annual cost of care for a private nursing home in Wisconsin is $96,725 and has increased 6.8% a year over the past five years. That compares to a national average of $83,950 and a 4.5% yearly increase during the same time period. The comparable cost for an assisted living facility is $42,451 in the Badger State, an increase of 2.5% per year over the past five years. The national average is $41,400, a 4.3% average jump.

Meanwhile, home health aides also make more in Wisconsin, coming in at $22 an hour, compared to the national average of $19. Wages have risen 2.2% annually over the past five years in the state, and 1% nationally.

To read more, CLICK HERE.

Badger state to receive $830,000 for navigators

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is allocating $830,000 worth of grants to Wisconsin community groups who want to help consumers navigate the state’s federally-run health insurance exchange. It’s part of $54 million that HHS is providing to 33 states for navigators.

Eric Borgerding, from the Wisconsin Hospital Association said providers are concerned about the exchanges and “how effective they will be in connecting people with coverage, especially those at the lowest income levels who could lose Medicaid eligibility.” He said the news there may be grant funding for only 10 or so navigators statewide to assist in this massive undertaking is the latest indication that those concerns are well founded.

Applications for the navigator grants are due June 7 and HHS plans to announce the winners in August. Each states’ share is based on its number of uninsured. There are 497,388 in Wisconsin without coverage, according to HHS.

To read more, CLICK HERE.


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