News

  • 03/31/2020 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    March 31, 2020

    Governor Evers today sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting that the president issue a major disaster declaration for the entire state of Wisconsin, as a result the COVID-19 pandemic. The request covers all 72 counties and the state’s federally recognized tribes.

    Having determined that Wisconsin met all of the criteria required to receive a major disaster declaration, Gov. Evers in his letter requested that the federal government provide the following programs to support the state’s response: Public Assistance, Direct Assistance, Hazard Mitigation (statewide), and certain Individual Assistance programs; Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program.

    Gov. Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12 in response to the outbreak, which directed the Department of Health Services to take all necessary and appropriate actions to help combat the spread of the virus. On March 14, the governor directed Wisconsin Emergency Management to activate the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to provide additional coordination in support of the state’s response.

    A copy of the governor’s letter (link) and the full press release are available online (link).

  • 03/31/2020 11:31 AM | Anonymous

    March 31, 2020

    Governor Evers today announced that Wisconsin has received its second phase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and is in the process of distribution. The second phase of supplies from the SNS are being delivered to healthcare workers, emergency medical services, and medical facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and clinics across Wisconsin.

    The State Emergency Operations Center and Department of Health Services continue working to supply medical facilities with supplies requested from the Strategic National Stockpile. The second phase includes approximately 51,880 N95 respirators, 130,840 face/surgical masks, 23,400 face shields, 20,226 surgical gowns, 96 coveralls, and 79,000 pairs of gloves. Today’s shipment comes as Governor Evers announced Wisconsin’s first delivery of SNS supplies which included approximately 52,800N95 respirators, 130,000 face/surgical masks, 24,768 face shields, 20,286 surgical gowns, 96 coveralls, and 61,750 pairs of gloves. In total Wisconsin has received approximately 104,680 N95 respirators, 260,840 face/surgical masks, 48,186 face shields, 40,512 surgical gowns, 192 coveralls, and 140,750 pairs of gloves from the SNS.

    The SNS supply shipments do not include supplies the governor has requested from FEMA for non-medical personnel or supplies being aggressively pursued through procurement, donations, or the governor’s buyback program.

  • 03/30/2020 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    March 30, 2020

    Governor Evers announced a new public-private partnership among Wisconsin industry leaders to increase Wisconsin's laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19. Prior to today's announcement, the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene and the Milwaukee Public Health Lab were leading the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network labs to bring additional COVID-19 testing online.

    The new partnership now includes laboratory support from Exact Sciences, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Promega, and UW Health. These organizations, along with the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network, will now share knowledge, resources, and technology to bolster Wisconsin’s testing capacity.

    The Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network labs have been averaging completion of 1,500-2,000 COVID-19 tests per day. The expanded capacity from the state’s new public-private partnership is expected to double that capacity initially and continue to expand as additional platforms and supplies become available.

    Residents who are seeking a COVID-19 test are still required to receive an order from a doctor. These labs are not testing sites. 

    The full press release is available online (link).

  • 03/30/2020 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    March 30, 2020

    ForwardHealth will allow telehealth services utilizing interactive synchronous (real-time) technology, including audio-only phone communication, for currently covered services that can be delivered with functional equivalency to the face-to-face service. This applies to all service areas and all enrolled professional and paraprofessional providers allowable within current ForwardHealth coverage policy.

    Please refer to the Forward Health Update 2020-15 (link) for a comprehensive explanation of the update.

  • 03/30/2020 11:26 AM | Anonymous

    March 30, 2020

    ForwardHealth has published Alert 009, titled "Temporary Changes for Durable Medical Equipment and Disposable Medical Supplies Face-to-Face Requirements," to the ForwardHealth COVID-19 Portal Page (link). Beginning March 12, 2020, ForwardHealth will not require a face-to-face visit with a physician or authorized non-physician practitioner for an initial prescription of any durable medical equipment or disposable medical supplies. A prescription will continue to be required for durable medical equipment and disposable medical supplies.

  • 03/30/2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    March 30, 2020

    Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) announced a joint effort with the Brown County Health Department March 30 to collect unused personal protective equipment (PPE) for area health care providers. The drive has already yielded a number of donations, including nearly 28,000 gloves donated the first day. “Health care workers and first responders across Northeast Wisconsin work around the clock to keep us safe, and we should do all we can to ensure they’re protected from the coronavirus,” Rep. Gallagher said. “I’m proud to team up with the Brown County Health Department to give Northeast Wisconsinites an easy drop-off location that ensures their donations will go directly to the local heroes on the frontlines of this fight.” Individuals interested in donating PPE have been asked to e-mail WI08donations@gmail.com or call Rep. Gallagher’s office at (920) 301-4500 to schedule a drop-off time and location with staff. Donations of all sizes will be accepted at predetermined times.

  • 03/28/2020 12:50 PM | Anonymous

    March 28, 2020

    Governor Evers released a 65-page draft piece of legislation and a draft joint resolution on Saturday night aimed at addressing COVID-19. The Governor also released a chart outlining the proposalThe Legislative Fiscal Bureau also provided a Summary of provisions of Governor Evers’ proposed legislation and Joint Resolution indefinitely extending public health emergency to state legislators.

    The bill includes several healthcare provisions, including language related to out-of-network bills that occur during the public health emergency. The language caps physician payment rates at 250% of the Medicare rate.

    Insurance 

    • Prohibits health plans from charging patients more for out-of-network services related to the diagnosis and treatment of the condition for which a public health emergency has been declared than they do for in-network services (if an in-network physician is not available).
    • The bill requires the plan to reimburse the out-of-network provider at 250% of the Medicare rate. Providers and facilities are prohibited from charging patients more than what they are reimburse by the plan. 
    • Creates a process for out-of-state physicians to have liability coverage in Wisconsin during a public health emergency. They would need to provide OCI with a certificate of insurance for a policy of health care liability insurance issued by an insurer that is authorized in a jurisdiction accredited by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. 
    • Requires health plans to cover without cost-sharing any testing, treatment or vaccines related to COVID-19.
    • Requires health plans to cover any services provided via telehealth if they cover that service when it is provided in-person. 
    • Prohibits health plans from canceling policies due to non-payment during the COVID-19 emergency 
    • Prohibits health plans and pharmacy benefit managers from requiring prior authorization for any early refills of prescriptions or restricting the period of time in which a drug may be refilled. 
    • Creates a process for pharmacists to extend prescription orders by up to 30 days during public health emergencies. 

    Emergency Preparedness 

    • Provides $300 million to the Department of Military Affairs to respond to the public health emergency. 
    • Provides $200 million to the Department of Administration to respond to the public health emergency. 

    Health 

    • Creates a public health emergency fund for the Department of Health Services.
    • Provides $100 million for a new health care provider grant program specific to planning, preparing for and responding to COVID-19. 
    • Provides $17.4 million to local health departments. 
    • Creates 64 positions within the Department of Health Services’ Division of Public Health.
    • Allows DHS to suspend any premium or cost-sharing requirements for childless adults on BadgerCare in order to qualify for enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds related to COVID-19.  
    • Exempts the Department of Health Services, during a public health emergency, from the current law legislative review requirements for submitting waiver requests to the federal government, amending the state Medicaid plan or raising Medicaid reimbursement rates.  
    • Expands the definition of public health emergency to include toxins or other threats to health. 

    Health Care Workforce 

    • Allows former health care providers to receive a temporary license to provide services during a public health emergency. This would apply to physicians, nurses, PAs, dentists, pharmacists, phycologists, social workers and other health providers who have practiced within the last 5 years but do not currently have a license. The temporary license would be valid until 90 days following the conclusion of the health emergency. 
    • Allows out-of-state health care providers to receive a temporary license to practice in Wisconsin. The temporary license would be valid until 90 days following the conclusion of the health emergency.
    • Allows the state to waive licensure fees for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists, and certain behavioral health providers. 
    • Exempts certain health care provider credentials issued by credentialing boards in DSPS from having to be renewed during the public health emergency. 

    Unemployment Insurance

    • Eliminates the one-week waiting period for Unemployment Insurance

    Voting

    The bill contains several provisions related to voting during public health emergencies. Specifically, for elections held during a declared public health emergency, it would: 

    • Require elections held during public health emergencies to be held by mail. 
    • Waive the state’s Photo ID requirement.
    • Waive the requirement that mail-in absentee ballots need a witness signature.
    • Allow mail-in ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
    • Allow voters to register electronically until 5 days before the election.
  • 03/28/2020 9:38 AM | Anonymous

    March 28, 2020

    Governor Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm today exercised their authority under Article V, Section 4 of the Wisconsin Constitution and Sections 323.12(4) and 252.02(6) of the Wisconsin Statutes to simplify healthcare license renewals during the COVID-19 public health emergency and to encourage recently retired professionals with expired licenses to re-enter practice. This full order is available online (link).

    The order includes the following policy changes:

    • Interstate Reciprocity: allows any out-of-state health can provider licensed and in good standing to practice in Wisconsin without a Wisconsin credential. The order requires the out-of-state physician to apply for a temporary or permanent Wisconsin license within 10 days of first working at a Wisconsin health care facility; and the health care facility must notify DSPS within 5 days. The order temporarily suspends the visiting physician practice limitations in Med 3.04. 
    • Temporary License: Any temporary licensed to an out-of-state provider during the emergency will be valid until 30 days after the conclusion of the emergency. 
    • Telemedicine: Allows physicians licensed and in good standing in Wisconsin, another U.S. state or Canada to provide telemedicine services to Wisconsin residents. 
    • Physician Assistants: Suspends several current rules regulating the practice of PAs in Wisconsin. This includes: the requirement of PAs to notify the MEB of changes to their supervising physician within 20 days (order changes it to 40 days); the requirement that PAs limit their scope of practice to that of their supervising physician (the order allows them to practice to the extent of their experience, education, training and abilities. It also allows them to delegate tasks to another health provider); the physician to PA ratio of 4:1 (the order allows a physician to oversee up to 8 on-duty PAs at a time, but there is no limit on how many PAs a physician may provide supervision to over time. It also allows a PA to be supervised by multiple physicians while on duty). 
    • Nurse Training and Practice: The order suspends many rules related to nursing. This includes suspending a rule that prohibits simulations from being utilized for more than 50% of the time designated for meeting clinical learning requirements. It also suspends the requirement for nurses to submit an official transcript in order to get a temporary license and allows a temporary license to remain valid for up to 6 months. In addition, it suspends the rule requiring license renewal within 5 years. 
    • Advanced Practice Nurse Prescribers: Temporarily suspends the requirement that Nurse Prescribers must facilitate collaboration with other health care professionals, at least 1 of whom shall be a physician or dentist.
    • Recently Expired Credentials: Requires the state to reach out to individuals with recently lapsed credentials about renewal options. The order also suspends many of the late renewal fees and continuing education requirements for most health professions. The order temporarily suspends MED 14.06(2)(a) to allow a physician whose license lapsed less than 5 years ago to renew without fulfilling the continuing education requirements. It also suspends RAD 5.01 (1) and (2) to allow radiographers or LXMO permit holders who have let their license lapse renew without completing continuing education. 
    • Fees: The order also gives DHS the ability to suspend fees or assessments related to health care provider credentialing. 

    The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect through the duration of the public health emergency.

    The full version of the Governor’s press release is available online (link).

  • 03/27/2020 11:16 AM | Anonymous

    March 27, 2020

    For urgent prior authorization requests for fee‐for‐service members, contact ForwardHealth Provider Services at 800‐947‐9627 for assistance with expediting the prior authorization process. An urgent, medically necessary situation is one where a delay in authorization would result in undue hardship for the member or unnecessary costs for Wisconsin Medicaid as determined by the Division of Medicaid Services. In general, urgent requests will receive a response within five business days. Additional information regarding urgent services is available (link).

    Note: Prior authorization is not required for emergency services, defined as services that are necessary to prevent the death or serious impairment of the health of the individual. Reimbursement is not guaranteed for services that normally require prior authorization that are provided in emergency situations; those services still must meet all ForwardHealth coverage requirements, including medical necessity.

    This Action Alert 08 and others are available on the ForwardHealth website (link).

  • 03/27/2020 11:09 AM | Anonymous

    March 27, 2020

    In response to the COVID‐19 pandemic, ForwardHealth is temporarily altering certain procedures in order to prevent further spread of the disease and effectively treat existing cases. These altered procedures will only be in effect during the public health emergency declared by Governor Tony Evers for the State of Wisconsin under Executive Order 72.

    Temporary Phone Number Change for Urgent Prior Authorization Requests
    For urgent prior authorization requests for fee‐for‐service members, contact ForwardHealth Provider Services at 800‐947‐9627 for assistance with expediting the prior authorization process. An urgent, medically necessary situation is one where a delay in authorization would result in undue hardship for the member or unnecessary costs for Wisconsin Medicaid as determined by the Division of Medicaid Services. In general, urgent requests will receive a response within five business days. Additional information regarding urgent services is available.

    Note: Prior authorization is not required for emergency services, defined as services that are necessary to prevent the death or serious impairment of the health of the individual. Reimbursement is not guaranteed for services that normally require prior authorization that are provided in emergency situations; those services still must meet all ForwardHealth coverage requirements, including medical necessity.

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