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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 608.442.3810.
Christopher A. Noffke, GBDS
Director of Group Benefits
Society CEO participates on WMC panel
On Wednesday, Society CEO Bud Chumbley, MD, was a panelist for the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) weekly webinar addressing COVID-19 concerns. Dr. Chumbley conveyed to all those present the need for quicker testing of COVID-19 and the importance of collaboration between providers and systems during this crisis.
Dr. Chumbley also informed everyone of the Society’s efforts to reach out to over 1,800 retired physicians to help alleviate workforce and access concerns as well as the Society’s additional efforts to supply clinicians with the resources they need to deal with COVID-19.
During the call Dr. Chumbley was asked if the Governor’s “safer at home” order would be extended, and he stated that it would while emphasizing the need to take social distancing requirements seriously.
Please contact HJ Waukau with additional questions.
Discounted Telehealth for Clinics – Society Partners with Valet Health
The Wisconsin Medical Society has partnered with Valet Health, an innovative health care digital marketing company, to offer a streamlined – and HIPAA compliant – telehealth start-up service during the coronavirus pandemic.
It is imperative at this time to be inclusive in our efforts to overcome this virus; therefore, the Society is offering this service to members and nonmembers.
Please click here to learn more or contact Jim Lorence with questions.
Society COVID-19 Action Update
The Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) continues to advocate for physician and patient needs during this pandemic as Wisconsin’s physicians continue to provide high-quality care while putting themselves at risk. The Society’s efforts over the last week have produced tangible results in the fight against COVID-19.
Creation of temporary licenses
Governor Evers issued an order on March 27 easing regulations for retired physicians to return to the workforce and allowing physicians to work across state lines on a temporary basis. The Society worked with the Evers Administration to create these temporary licenses which are tied to the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration.
The Society reached out to retired physicians to identify who would be interested in helping during this crisis. We appreciate all the responses and interest we have received already from retired physicians. If you are a retired physician who is interested in helping during the crisis, please complete this short form.
Medical Malpractice guidance
In conjunction with Governor Evers’s order, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) issued guidance directing medical malpractice insurers to treat telehealth services the same is if those services were provided in person. In addition, OCI is directing malpractice insurers to work with providers with temporary licenses created under the Governor’s order to obtain coverage. This guidance was directly influenced by the Society’s actions and engagement.
In that same order Governor Evers temporarily eased telemedicine guidelines in general and allowed physicians to work across state lines with a temporary license. The order also directed OCI to facilitate coverage outside of traditional settings and to work with insurers on ways to minimize barriers to telehealth. This order was created with Society collaboration.
Both the Department of Health Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have announced new guidelines for telehealth. This includes coverage and reimbursement parity, establishing new patient relationships, in-home consultations and telephone-only services among many other policy expansions.
State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC)
Society CEO Bud Chumbley, MD, has been in contact with the SEOC on a number of issues and will be joining its Sector Support Task Force. This will provide the Society and the state’s physicians with an active voice in how the emergency actions of the state are handled.
Safe Harbor for COVID-19
The Society will be working with all relevant stakeholders to create a liability safe harbor for physicians providing care during the COVID-19 crisis. Discussions are ongoing and details will follow.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The Governor announced Tuesday that Wisconsin will be receiving its second shipment of PPE from the national stockpile. The Society has been working with the Evers Administration to stress the continued need for PPE and supports all efforts to increase both access and supply.
If you have questions about how to access the stockpile, please contact your local county emergency management coordinator. Additional information can be found here.
Governor Evers today announced a second package of comprehensive legislative proposals that would provide critical investments in health services, support for essential workers, and assistance for Wisconsin families and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s announcement today comes just days after Gov. Evers announced a first piece of legislation, which included additional funding and flexibility for public health professionals and healthcare professionals, a repeal of the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance, expanding and improving access to telehealth services, among many other proposals.
As additional needs and issues arise from agencies and stakeholders, the governor is committed to working with legislators to find bipartisan solutions. The governor’s office welcomes the opportunity to hear and consider any proposals that legislators have to address the impacts of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of Wisconsin residents, businesses and communities.
This package, among many other proposals, includes:
The Governor’s first COVID-19-related legislation was introduced last week as LRB-5920 and is available here for review. A brief explanation of LRB-5920 is available here. A brief explanation of the governor’s second round of proposed legislation announced today is available online (link).
Effective for dates of service on and after April 1, 2020, ForwardHealth, which has an expedited emergency supply policy dispensing option available for certain drugs, has expanded the list of drugs available through expedited emergency supply and will allow most drugs to be dispensed in up to a 100-day expedited emergency supply.
A table with the expanded list of drugs available by expedited supply is included below and is also available on the Pharmacy Resources page of the ForwardHealth Portal. Pharmacy providers should continue to follow the current processes for requesting an expedited emergency supply of drugs detailed in the Emergency Medication Dispensing topic (#1399) of the ForwardHealth Online Handbook.
This Action Alert 10 and others are available on the ForwardHealth website (link).
Governor Evers issued the following statement regarding the upcoming April 7 election:
“We have three branches of government to ensure a system of checks and balances, and questions about our elections typically rely on all three playing a role. If I could have changed the election on my own I would have but I can’t without violating state law. I’ve asked the legislature to do its part to ensure a fair and safe election and I hope we can get some clarity as soon as possible. The bottom line is that we have to keep folks safe and we have to make sure everyone who wants to vote has the opportunity to make their voice heard.”
Previously, the governor proposed legislation that had several provisions aimed at making voting easier and more accessible during the public health emergency. A brief summary of that legislation is available here for review. Additionally, he called for the Legislature to act on this issue in a video, available here.
The amicus brief submitted on behalf of the governor is available here.
Contact WCMS563 Carter Court, Suite B, Kimberly, WI 54136Email: WaukeshaCMS@badgerbay.co
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