Funding Healthcare in Wisconsin

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Funding Healthcare in Wisconsin

July 22, 2023 - 14:53
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The very first vote taken during the budget process was to remove Governor Evers’ bad budget policies that would have moved our state in the wrong direction, including his massive expansion of welfare and his elimination of key safety net programs safeguards, like drug testing and work requirements. Instead, Legislative Republicans chose to fund real Wisconsin priorities, which include supporting the healthcare industry and ensuring healthcare is accessible and affordable for all Wisconsin residents.

Access to Mental Health Services:
We have all personally experienced or witnessed the immense toll COVID took on the overall health and well-being of Wisconsinites. Mental health issues, substance abuse, overdoses, suicides and loneliness all spiked during the pandemic, and we are still seeing the detrimental effects today. This is why it’s more important than ever to invest in these vital services for those in need, and in our healthcare system overall. Our budget includes the following investments:

  • $30.5M for increasing rates for hospital services provided in behavioral health units for general medical and surgical hospitals
  • $10M for regional crisis urgent care and observation facilities
  • $2M for a telemedicine crisis response program
  • $30M increase for school-based mental health services grants
  • $7M to support at least 10 residents at the psychiatric residency program at the Medical College of Wisconsin

Continuing funding for programs that aid individuals in crisis and support those who seek to assist them remains crucial. Currently, 55 of 72 counties in our state have a significant shortage of psychiatrists and nearly a third of counties have none. Given the increased reports of mental illness among adults and youth, these investments will play a vital role in meeting the growing mental health needs of our state.

Investing in Long-Term Care:
With our aging population and current workforce challenges, we continued to invest heavily in the long-term care industry, investing by providing nearly $500 million of new money, to support skilled nursing facilities; increasing base rates for home and community-based services that help seniors remain in their own homes; and boosting wages for direct care workers and personal care workers.

Funding Includes:

  • $225M for continuing home and community-based services rate increases
  • $38.4M for raising wages for the direct care workforce for those enrolled in Family Care
  • $38.4M to increase the personal care reimbursement rate
  • $146.4M for increasing the nursing home support services
  • $2M for offsetting an increase in the personal needs allowance, which enables nursing home residents on Medicaid to retain a larger portion of their income for personal items
  • $31.2M for nursing home incentive payments

We've also kept critical increases in several community partners such as free and charitable clinics, and aging and disability resource centers, that supplement the health care system. These organizations have a critical supporting role in making sure our residents, regardless of condition or income, are well-served in their healthcare needs.

Investments in Medicaid and High-Quality Healthcare:
Wisconsin continues to rank among the highest states for healthcare quality, and this is certainly in part due to the investments we continue to make in healthcare. Republicans made significant investments in our healthcare industry by raising Medicaid reimbursement rates across several health services including hospital base payments, primary care rates, emergency department physicians, chiropractors, and behavioral health in general medical hospitals. Other investments include:

  • Disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments by $124 million, which support hospitals that serve a large number of Medicaid and uninsured individuals
  • Rural critical care access hospital payments by $11.6 million
  • Supporting the establishment or expansion of residency programs at hospitals by $1.8 million
  • Providing funding for the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan to reduce premiums for insurance plans bought on the marketplace -- Wisconsin’s health insurance marketplace and Healthcare Stability Plan are key reasons why Wisconsin’s uninsured rate is so low and why expanding Medicaid isn’t right for our state

These rate increases, combined with supplemental aids for disproportionate share hospitals and rural critical care hospitals, will help keep costs down for providers and patients.

Supporting Healthcare Workforce Development:
The strength of our healthcare system relies heavily on its people. We have included a series of investments in the next generation of healthcare workers, particularly focusing on those in the highest demand. We continued the WisCaregiver Careers Program to help more individuals enter the industry; we expanded support for residency programs at hospitals; we newly funded a psychiatry residency program; and we backed the revitalization of our state’s only dental school. All these investments are intended to help improve access to care that, in the real world, can be difficult for patients to find.

There is 1 Comment

We badly need to have adult leadership controlling our state government, our Governor is a dud and has no clue.

I will caution Robin, that some of this spending is a bit of a stretch on what the state should be involved with, but then we have to play the hand we have been dealt. Modern medicine is wonderful but very expensive. A big part of the expense came when the government started paying for healthcare. So much is demanded by laws and lawyers, and that dictates a great deal of overmedication in the form of tests, and official requirements, that are overkill. I don't think we can fix that, the hole is too deep.

Long-term care is very expensive, but a grassroots look at it shows that we have so many government mandates for how and what this care includes. Wisconsin has a bed tax on nursing homes, research that, and then let's eliminate it. We also have a government limit on the number of nursing home beds, I honestly don't know why that is, other than I believe they have convinced the past legislatures it was needed for better oversight.

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