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News & Press: Legislative Updates

WPA Legislative Update - Spring 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018  
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Eric Jensen, WPA Lobbyist

Doctor Day 2018 and 2019

On January 30th nearly 500 physicians and medical students came to Madison for the 5th annual Doctor Day advocacy event—our biggest turnout yet!  While in Madison, attendees heard from Governor Walker, received a legal update on the Mayo case in which a state appeals court invalidated Wisconsin’s non-economic damages cap for medical liability cases, appeal of which is now pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, listened to a legal discussion relating to network adequacy and surprise billing.  The morning session wrapped with briefings on issues including worker’s compensation, advanced practice nurse collaboration and chiropractors conducting youth sports physicals.   Once again, following an afternoon of legislative visits attendees retired to a nearby restaurant for debriefing and camaraderie. 

Looking ahead, next year’s event will be scheduled later in the year to better coincide with the Legislature’s primary activity for the year—the State Budget.  Doctor Day 2019 is tentatively scheduled for May 1, 2019—mark your calendars now!

Chiropractor Sports Physicals

One of the items discussed at Doctor Day, Assembly Bill 260, in its original form would have authorized chiropractors to conduct youth pre-participation athletic physical exams and require the WIAA to accept those exams for athletic participation. WPA joined a large number of health care organizations opposing AB 260, but last June the bill passed the State Assembly.  In the wake of Doctor Day, however, AB 260 was amended by the Senate Health Committee to remove the sports physical authority, passed by the Senate, concurred in by the Assembly and ultimately signed by Governor Walker in an amended for to which physician organizations did not object.  This is a testament to the impact of physicians can have lobbying their lawmakers at Doctor Day!

Assembly Bill 848

Earlier this year, WPA testified in support of this legislation, authored by Representative Amy Laudenbeck (R-Clinton), to provide up to 30 days of emergency mental health treatment without parental/guardian consent for minors while a Mental Health Review Officer process is underway.  AB 848 did pass both the Assembly and Senate, and was recently signed by Governor Walker.  An excerpt from testimony by Justin Schoen, MD and John Schneider, MD:

As with most physical illnesses, the key to swift and successful outcomes is early detection, diagnosis and treatment.  In many cases, for example those where a child’s parents or guardians are themselves struggling with mental illness, or are drug abusers, or who are largely absent, it is others in a child’s life (like teachers, or counselors) who see the first signs of mental health issues. Appropriately, written consent of a child’s parents or guardians is required before children receive mental health treatment, but in some instances parents or guardians are unavailable to provide that consent.  In those cases, Wisconsin law provides a mental health review officer (MHRO) process by which children can receive mental health treatment without a parent or guardian’s consent.  Unfortunately, that MHRO process can be difficult and time consuming to navigate, and can result in a delay in finding mental health care for a child, perhaps resulting in no care at all.

SB 737 would allow children to receive up to 30 days of emergency mental health treatment without parental/guardian consent if circumstances make gaining that consent difficult or impossible.  Under appropriate circumstances, this allows a child to get necessary mental health care while the MHRO process plays out, rather than delaying care and increasing the child’s chances for a negative outcome.  Our children are among our must vulnerable, and while requiring the involvement of their parents/guardians in their healthcare is a good public policy, it is important that we do all we reasonably can to get children necessary mental health care as quickly as possible.  SB 737 represents a balanced approach to this dilemma.  Please support SB 737.

Campaign Season is Upon Us

Finally, with an odd-year spring finally upon us, the Legislature has formally adjourned the 2917-18 Session and heads off to campaign for November.  Republicans presently dominate Wisconsin politics holding the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office, a 63-35 majority in the Assembly and a 18-15 majority in the Senate.  November will see races for Governor, Attorney General, all 99 Assembly seats and 17 of the 33 Senate seats.  (As well as all 8 of Wisconsin’s Congressional seats and one U.S. Senate seat.)  Recent special elections and Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin, as well as other states, suggest a typical anti-President’s party mid-term election coming.  Republicans downplay prospects of a “blue wave” election favoring Democrats, touting Wisconsin’s economic status and low unemployment among their achievements.  Democrats, meanwhile, believe the electorate is ready for change and are working hard to recruit candidates and raise money in as many Wisconsin districts as possible.  There is much time between now and November, and elections tend to tighten up as voting day approaches regardless of who appears to be leading early on, but without a doubt 2018 is shaping up to be another in a series of very interesting recent Election Days.