On Wednesday, May 13th the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the Evers Administration’s Safer at Home order effective immediately. The Court determined that the extension of the Safer at Home order under Emergency Order 28 went beyond the bounds of executive authority under section 252 of the state statutes and should have been submitted as a rule. Members of the Court had considered a stay of the ruling as requested by the Legislature but ultimately decided against it. Late Wednesday night, the Evers Administration stated it was going to be submitting a rule framework for new regulations in light of the Court’s ruling. The timing, duration and implementation of any new rule is unknown at this time and would incorporate elements from both the Governor and the Legislature.
While the Court’s ruling applies to the statewide order, multiple local municipal orders either remain in place or were announced yesterday. Prior to the Court’s arguments, the Society issued a joint statement with the AMA stating that “decisions about public health should be made based on science, evidence and data… [and] calling on all parties in the state… to put their differences aside and come together and work to improve the health and well-being of the people of Wisconsin.” The Society will closely monitor developments as they unfold.
Do you have questions? Contact HJ Waukau at the Wisconsin Medical Society.
Wisconsin Medical Society | Medigram
The Wisconsin Medical Society is pleased to announce that Wisconsin health care practices can now order personal protective equipment (PPE) from a reputable and certified bulk PPE supplier through ActionPPE. The project was launched by the Charleston County Medical Society in South Carolina. The Society, along with other state medical societies are coordinating joint orders of products including KN-95 masks, disposable masks and gowns on behalf of our state physicians and their practices. The Society is looking to add other PPE supplies in the future.
These products may be procured by any Wisconsin physician, their practices and all state health care providers.
Information on the vetted vendor, certificates of items and ordering information is available here.
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.
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).
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 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).
Governor Evers announced that Wisconsin has been granted a major disaster declaration for the entire state of Wisconsin, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration provides access to Public Assistance programs for all 72 Wisconsin counties and the state’s federally recognized tribes.
Gov. Evers earlier this week 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.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notified the state today that it is granting the request for Public Assistance to help provide reimbursement for emergency protective measures taken by state and local governments in their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The declaration also authorizes direct Federal Assistance which means when the State and local governments lack the capability to perform or to contract for eligible emergency work and/or debris removal, the State may request that the work be accomplished by a federal agency. The governor’s additional requests for assistance remain under review.
The major disaster declaration covers assistance to public entities, and will cover eligible projects submitted by counties, cities, townships, tribes, and certain private, not-for-profit organizations. Local governments in the declared counties are now eligible for federal assistance and should contact county emergency management directors for further information. Under the program, FEMA provides 75 percent of eligible costs, while the remaining 25 percent is the responsibility of state and local agencies.
The Governor’s full press release 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:
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).
April 2, 2020
COVID-19 Crisis Prompts OCI Guidance to Insurers
Insurers are being asked to allow small employers of physicians and other health care workers (2 - 49 employees) to extend health care coverage to employees who work less than 30 hours per week or are furloughed due to COVID-19.
The Commissioner, Mark Afable, issued a bulletin on March 26 that “encourages insurers to make available the option of maintaining coverage under the group insurance plan for employees working fewer than 30 hours per week.”
The bulletin also “encourages insurers to work with employers to provide the option of continuing dental, vision and prescription drug benefits when offered as separate policies.”
With a stay at home order in place until at least April 24, this is an important development for small groups. And, if insurers follow these recommendations, it will eliminate the need to change providers or incur new deductibles and cost-sharing requirements once the crisis has passed and employees return to full-time work.
Telemedicine and temporary provider professional liability coverage
In a separate bulletin issued on March 31, OCI made it clear that insurers should do everything they can to help.
“At the direction of Governor Tony Evers, Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable issued a request to medical malpractice insurers today aimed at expanding access to telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic and at ensuring retired and out-of-state health care workers can get the medical malpractice coverage in order to support the state's response to COVID-19.”
Bud Chumbley, MD, MBA, and CEO of the Wisconsin Medical Society said, “It is extremely important for insurers to act now as all of Wisconsin steps up to the plate to minimize the severity of this crisis.”
Both of these bulletins were prompted by inquiries made to the OCI from members of the medical community as well as a significant amount of advocacy by the Society and its insurance agency WisMed Assure.
This is a fluid situation as insurers react to these recommendations. To get the most up-to-date information about your insurance coverage, please contact us at email@example.com or 608.442.3810.
Christopher A. Noffke, GBDS
Director of Group Benefits
Contact WCMS563 Carter Court, Suite B, Kimberly, WI 54136
Ph: 920-560-5641 | Fax: 920-882-3655Email: WaukeshaCMS@badgerbay.co
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