Latest News

  • August 18, 2020 11:41 AM | Deleted user

    Ryan Thompson, MD, FACEP
    WACEP President’s Message, August 2020

    I recently started work on an addition for my house, and after digging a giant hole, my contractor discovered that the sandy dirt under my foundation had largely eroded away in the 90 years since the house had been built. This was an unwelcome (and expensive!) discovery, but even more concerning is that I suddenly had to worry about my house collapsing – a possibility I had never even considered in my 5 years of living there. How could something as seemingly small as sand have such a major impact on the stability of my home?!

    Just like the sand under my home, Medicare reimbursement is probably something most emergency physicians rarely think about. However, since we see such a large number of Medicare patients, those payments do serve as the foundation for the financial solvency of many of our practices. And also like that sand, those payments are at threat of bringing down the whole house if they erode away.

    ACEP had actually made great headway on increasing CMS payments for emergency E/M codes in this year’s CMS reimbursement fee schedule update. They were able to secure an increase of about 12.7% for level 3 charts, and an increase of about 5.25% for level 4 and 5 charts. This is good news! However, as always, the devil is in the details. In order to promote primary care, CMS increased payments for all outpatient office codes. However, CMS has a mandate to remain budget neutral, so they have proposed a rule slashing all other physician reimbursements by 9%. Factoring in the increase in ED codes, emergency physicians are facing a 6% decrease in reimbursement in 2021, taking a veritable firehose to the sand that supports many small practice groups.

    However, we don’t have to stand idly by and watch this happen. If Congress waives the budget neutrality requirement, we will actually see an increase of about 3%. And in the midst of facing down a pandemic, now is not the time to start shortchanging the nation’s physicians. Reach out to your legislators and let them know that emergency physicians need relief right now, not belt tightening. A cut of this scale could force smaller groups out of business all around the nation, and Wisconsin has a high percentage of small independent groups.

    If Congress fails to stop this erosion of the foundations of Emergency Medicine, the long-term damage will be far more expensive and difficult to fix than is apparent at first glance. Just ask my contractor!

  • August 17, 2020 12:54 PM | Deleted user

    Hear from the man who has been at the epicenter of this pandemic and get a first-hand account of the nation’s response to COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci will offer his unique perspective on the virus and the care given to Americans in 2020.

    He will kick off ACEP20 at 9 am CDT, Oct. 26, followed by a panel of international emergency physicians on “Lessons Learned: Global Response to COVID-19.”

    Dr. Fauci was appointed Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 1984. He oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.

    Dr. Fauci has advised six Presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.

    Sign up for ACEP20 today.

  • August 12, 2020 12:18 PM | Deleted user

    Andrew Culp, a community ED physician based in Madison, is gathering physician feedback on epistaxis management for an upcoming Phase I NIH SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grant.  Please consider taking this 3-minute survey to share your perspective.

  • August 11, 2020 10:47 AM | Deleted user

    ACTION ALERT! Contact your member of Congress today and urge them to waive the budget neutrality requirement for calendar years 2021 and 2022 by signing on to a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter led by Rep. Bobby Rush.  It is essential that they hear directly from emergency physicians in their district just how devastating these cuts could be for access to emergency care for patients across the country.  Learn more and take action today.

  • August 11, 2020 10:31 AM | Deleted user

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) hosted all-inclusive webinars last week to engage providers, provider associations, members, and member advocates in telehealth expansion. These webinars provided an overview of the telehealth expansion project and gathered input on permanent telehealth policy. View Provider webinar here, and visit the DHS webpage for additional resources on telehealth expansion. 

  • July 26, 2020 12:26 PM | Deleted user

    Becker's Hospital Review 

    A vast majority of emergency medicine physicians said increasing the availability of personal protective equipment would relieve their stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey shows. The survey was emailed to all emergency medicine physicians at seven U.S. academic emergency departments. A total of 426 physicians responded. Survey results were published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine.  READ MORE

  • July 24, 2020 12:29 PM | Deleted user

    On Thursday, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex Azar, extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for another 90 days. This is the second time Secretary Azar has extended the public health emergency. It is now set to expire at the end of October.

    The extension of the public health emergency means that the waivers and flexibilities that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other federal agencies have put into place to help health care practitioners and facilities respond to the pandemic (including those related to telehealth and EMTALA) will remain in place.

    For more information about CMS’ emergency waivers click here, and for ACEP's summary of federal guidance related to COVID-19, click here.

  • July 23, 2020 4:45 PM | Deleted user

    The Wisconsin Chapter ACEP joined a coalition of medical societies in Wisconsin that created an open letter to the people of Wisconsin on the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to help curb further spread of COVID-19.  Read letter.

  • July 21, 2020 10:34 AM | Deleted user

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) invites you to attend a Medicaid Telehealth Expansion interactive webinar.


    This webinar will seek your response to DHS’s proposed launch of Wisconsin Act 56: Telehealth Expansion, which will significantly expand Wisconsin Medicaid’s permanent telehealth policy. The presentation will include the following items:

    • General overview of telehealth expansion
    • General policy information
    • Wave 1 priority acute and primary service areas:
    • Proposed services included in telehealth
    • Proposed services excluded from telehealth
    • Input from attendees

    Following the presentation, DHS will take questions from attendees via the DHS telehealth mailbox.

    How to join

    Thursday, July 30, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

    • Click this URL to join; Password: 07302020
    • Join by phone: 646-558-8656; Webinar ID #933 1403 1869

    Friday, July 31, 2:00-3:30 pm

    • Click this URL to join; Password: 07312020.
    • Join by phone: 646-558-8656; Webinar ID #999 9957 0817
  • July 20, 2020 4:56 PM | Deleted user

    Hubbard Wilson Zelenkova LLC, WACEP Lobbyists

    Legislative News

    The legislative floor session was cut short by the onset of the Covid-19 public health emergency.   While the Assembly completed its action on regular session legislation in February, the Senate intended to finish up on March 25th.   That of course did not happen.   The Senate has kept the door open to returning to finish action on bills it planned to concur on from the Assembly.  Under normal circumstances, any bills that had failed to pass by now would be dead for the session.  Under these unusual circumstances, however, the Senate may still come back to act.   Bills that could still receive action include: 

    • AB 526:  CME requirement for suicide prevention.  Passed assembly with bipartisan opposition.  Likely would not be taken up by the Senate if they return.  
    • AB 575:  Physician Assistants’ “Cares Act”.   Passed assembly on voice vote after significant amendments.
    • Of note, AB 664, that created and funds a school based mental health consultation pilot program passed both houses and was signed into law as WI Act 117 in early March.  

    Both houses of the legislature did return to pass legislation related to the public health emergency.   The covid-response legislation, most notably, included changes necessary for the state to accept increased FMAP funding under MA and gave DHS the ability to take actions during the Emergency Declaration that would otherwise require at least passive review under normal circumstances.   The legislation also included “balance billing” provisions that were a step in the right direction but fell short of what WACEP would support in permanent legislation.  Those concerns were outlined in a letter to the legislature.  It is encouraging, however, that the legislature is recognizing the issue and gives hope that a bill that WACEP can support will have traction next legislative session. 

    Significantly, HWZ worked with WACEP, the Wisconsin Medical Society and other physician groups to include immunity to civil liability for claims that arise as a result of treatment decisions made in response to the emergency.   WACEP’s proaction on this issue was a huge boost to the effort.  We made it a priority for WMS, and obtained bipartisan support from key legislators prior to the session.  The application of this provision however recently ran out as its duration applied for only 60 days after the Governor’s emergency declaration expired on May 11.  

    During the Governor’s 60 day Emergency Declaration, numerous emergency orders were issued.  Many EO provisions were related to healthcare, particularly availability and staffing for emergency response including delaying license renewals, easing temporary licensure guidelines, and the like.  Other provisions increased access and expanded services like telehealth applications and MA benefits.  Most provisions related to the Emergency Orders and covid-response legislation have now expired unless otherwise extended by administrative rule. 

    Efforts are underway to continue some of the covid-related regulatory flexibilities related to telehealth, licensure and liability.

    There has been much speculation as to whether or not the Legislature will convene a special or extraordinary legislative session prior to the beginning of the 2021-2022 legislative session in January.  As mentioned, in the Senate there was unfinished work to do on regular business legislation.   But more importantly, depending on where state revenues stand as a result of the pandemic, it is possible that a Budget Repair bill may be necessary.   State law requires that should state revenue estimates, on which the biennial budget was based, dip below .5% of funds necessary to maintain a balanced budget then corrective legislation is necessary.  However, even if budget action is triggered, it is our assessment that it is very unlikely the legislature would address a budget shortfall before the November election.   Instead, if necessary, it would be more likely that a budget shortfall would be addressed when the new legislature convenes in January 2021.

    On behalf of WACEP, we continue to lobby the Governor and DHS for federal CARES Act Funding for Emergency Physician Practice Groups.   WACEP has written the Governor and DHS multiple letters and we have had numerous contacts with top staff requesting CARES funding to be specifically allocated to assist our private practice groups.  These efforts are ongoing.  In addition, we continue to advocate with DHS, the Governor’s office, and the Legislature in support of increased MA rates for emergency codes.   As agencies begin putting their biennial budget requests together, these efforts are continuous.  

    2020 Elections

    Despite limitations on collecting signatures, candidate nomination papers were due on June 1st and we are now in the full swing of election season.  While some incumbents will get a free ride, most legislative seats will have contested races.   Several legislative retirements have left vacancies in the legislature and a dash for open seats.   Here is a list of sitting legislators who are either retiring or running for other elected office:

    Retiring Senators:   

    • Sen. Luther Olsen (R- Ripon)
    • Sen. Dave Craig, (R-Big Bend)
    • Rep. Fred Risser (D-Madison)
    • Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona), 
    • Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) 
    • Sen. Jen Shilling (D-La Crosse) (vacated senate seat on May 15)

    Retiring Senators running (or successfully ran) for higher office

    • Sen. Tom Tiffany (R- Hazelhurst) (Won 7th CD special election)
    • Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) (Running for 5th CD)

    Retiring Representatives:   

    • Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) (Appointed Dane County Circuit Judge effective August 1)
    • Rep. Deb Kolste (D-Janesville)
    • Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee)
    • Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah)
    • Rep. Bob Kulp (R- Stratford)
    • Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Barron)

    Retiring from Assembly and running (or successfully ran) for higher office:   

    • Rep. Joan Ballweg (R- Markesan) (Running for 14th SD)
    • Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) (Running for 12th SD) 
    • Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee) (new Milwaukee County Executive)
    • Rep. Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton) (Running for 8th CD)
    • Rep. Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) (Running for 10th SD)
    • Rep. Jocasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) (new Milwaukee city council member)
    • Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) (Running for 16th SD)