Latest News 

  • April 18, 2018 11:11 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Eric Jensen, WACEP Lobbyist  

    Mayo v. WIPFCF, et al.: The Mayo case will be argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday, April 19th.  Before the Court is an Appeals Court decision rendering Wisconsin’s cap on non-economic damages in medical liability cases unconstitutional.  At present, pending the Court’s decision (not expected until sometime this summer), there is effectively no cap on non-economic damages.  WACEP led a coalition of eight medical specialty organizations in writing and submitting an Amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in defense of the caps.

    AB 538 Signed into Law: Governor Walker signed Assembly Bill 538 (now 2017 Act 140) providing emergency physicians additional liability protections in cases involving involuntary commitments.  Quoting from a memo written by WACEP counsel, Guy DuBeau:

    "The Act accomplishes three major goals toward this end. Specifically, the Act clarifies that providers acting in good faith can seek, without fear of liability, emergency detention even though the process must be formally initiated by law enforcement or county crisis workers. The Act also provides greater control over transfers in that it requires emergency providers to agree that transfer is medically appropriate before the transfer can be made by law enforcement. Lastly, the Act explicitly aligns Wisconsin law with HIPAA by noting that providers may disclose information to third parties in good faith effort to prevent or lessen as serious and imminent threat to third parties."

    Medicaid Reimbursement for Emergency Physician Services: Known all too well to you, Wisconsin lags the nation in terms of Medicaid reimbursement for physician services, ranking a shocking 50th for its rate paid for Level 2, 3 and 4 trauma services; it’s a remarkable situation given Wisconsin’s consistently high overall healthcare rankings.  In early April, WACEP President, Lisa Maurer, MD and WACEP’s government affairs consultant met with new Medicaid Director, Heather Smith, in our continuing effort to educate policy-makers about the situation and its consequences for emergency care in Wisconsin, and ultimately to increase reimbursements to a level that is at least competitive with our border states. 

    Earlier this year, WACEP succeeded in convincing the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, and ultimately the full Legislature, to insert a provision into the State Budget bill directing the Department of Health Services (DHS) to convene a working group including WACEP members to discuss ideas for saving money in Medicaid emergency room services to be used to increase reimbursements without increasing overall taxpayer dollars committed.  At the request of the prior Medicaid Director, Governor Walker ultimately vetoed the provision citing overlapping existing efforts within DHS; but the issue is now on the radar screens of policy makers in the Legislature and Administration.

    Doctor Day 2018 and 2019: As many of you know, on January 30th nearly 500 physicians and medical students came to Madison for the 5th annual Doctor Day advocacy event – our biggest turnout yet!  While in Madison, attendees heard from Governor Walker, received a legal update on the Mayo case in which a state appeals court invalidated Wisconsin’s non-economic damages cap for medical liability cases, appeal of which is now pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, listened to a legal discussion relating to network adequacy and surprise billing.  The morning session wrapped with briefings on issues including worker’s compensation, advanced practice nurse collaboration and chiropractors conducting youth sports physicals.   Once again, following an afternoon of legislative visits attendees retired to a nearby restaurant for debriefing and camaraderie. Looking ahead, next year’s event will be scheduled later in the year to better coincide with the Legislature’s primary activity for the year – the State Budget.  Subject to change, Doctor Day 2019 is tentatively scheduled for May 1, 2019 – mark your calendars now!

    Chiropractor Sports Physicals: One of the items discussed at Doctor Day, Assembly Bill 260, in its original form would have authorized chiropractors to conduct youth pre-participation athletic physical exams and require the WIAA to accept those exams for athletic participation. WACEP joined a large number of health care organizations opposing AB 260, but last June the bill passed the State Assembly.  In the wake of Doctor Day, however, the Senate Health Committee amended AB 260 to remove the sports physical authority (with the amendment, physician organizations dropped their opposition).  The amended AB 260 then passed the Senate, was concurred in by the Assembly and ultimately signed by Governor Walker.  This is a testament to the impact of physicians can have lobbying their lawmakers at Doctor Day!

    Campaign Season is Upon Us: Finally, with an odd-year Spring finally upon us, the Legislature has formally adjourned the 2917-18 Session and heads off to campaign for November.  Republicans presently dominate Wisconsin politics holding the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office, a 63-35 majority in the Assembly and a 18-15 majority in the Senate.  November will see races for Governor, Attorney General, all 99 Assembly seats and 17 of the 33 Senate seats.  (As well as all 8 of Wisconsin’s Congressional seats and one U.S. Senate seat.)  Recent special elections and Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin, as well as other states, suggest a typical anti-President’s party mid-term election coming.  Republicans downplay prospects of a “blue wave” election favoring Democrats, touting Wisconsin’s economic status and low unemployment among their achievements.  Democrats, meanwhile, believe the  electorate is ready for change and are working hard to recruit candidates and raise money in as many Wisconsin districts as possible.  There is much time between now and November, and elections tend to tighten up as voting day approaches regardless of who appears to be leading early on, but without a doubt 2018 is shaping up to be another in a series of very interesting recent Election Days.

  • April 17, 2018 9:36 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Save-the-Date! Mark your calendars and plan to attend the WACEP 2019 Spring Symposium & 27th Annual Emergency Medicine Research Forum. The event will take place April 3-4, 2019 at the Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee WI. Stay tuned for more details. 

  • April 16, 2018 1:43 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    The annual WMS Foundation Fundraising Dinner took place on Friday, April 13 on the eve of the Wisconsin Medical Society's 2018 Annual Meeting, and WACEP was proud to sponsor the event, during which BayCare Emergency Physician Dr. Kerry Ahrens MD, MS was awarded the Kenneth M. Viste, Jr. MD Young Physician Award. This award is presented each year to a young physician who demonstrates commitment to patients, the medical profession and the community. 

    Doctor Ahrens serves as chair of the Wisconsin Stroke Coalition and medical director for the Oshkosh Fire Department, provides director level services for outlying smaller emergency medical services agencies, sits on the board of the Region 6 Regional Trauma and Advisory Counsel and is an associate professor for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health working with residents as a physician on UW MedFlight. She was nominated by her colleagues for her tireless advocacy work and for serving as a trusted source for medical and wellness information for the Green Bay media and her advocacy related to rural health issues, alternatives to opiates, vaccinations, driver safety, and bicycle and motorcycle helmet use.

    The Foundation dinner was emceed by Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), pictured here in the center with WACEP Past President Bobby Redwood, MD, MPH, FACEP, (left), and WACEP President-Elect Jeff Pothof, MD, FACEP (right).

  • April 16, 2018 12:31 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Brad Burmeister, MD, EM Delegate to WMS

    The WACEP delegation braved Blizzard Evelyn to attend the 2018 Wisconsin Medical Society House of Delegates (HOD) April 14-15.

    This year, WACEP, together with the Wisconsin Society of Anesthesiologists, proposed a resolution regarding consensus principles on Insurance Coverage for Out-of-Network Care. This resolution seeks to outlay principles to address the issues of balanced billing and surprise out-of-network bills our patients receive.

    Other issues germane to Emergency medicine that were addressed at the HOD include:

    • Elimination of Prior Authorization for Buprenorphine
    • Opposition to Medicaid Work Requirements, Drug Screening Requirements, and Eligibility Limits
    • Support for National (and State) Registry for Advanced Directives
    • Public Health Case for Firearm Regulation

    If you have any interest in advocacy or policy and would like to attend a future meeting of the Wisconsin Medical Society please contact us! The society values input from Emergency Physicians and there is room for more representatives from our specialty.

    Your membership with WACEP and WMS is valuable as we continue to work on the important issues such as those listed above. If your WMS membership has lapsed but you are willing to reconsider membership, please contact Diane Stampfli, Maximizing Emergency physician membership with the Society is an important aspect of our Emergency Medicine Section’s advocacy efforts. 

  • April 15, 2018 8:43 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    EATWELL is a wellness initiative of the Wisconsin Chapter, ACEP, encouraging members to eat well and share their successes! The contest is open to Wisconsin EM physicians, EM residents, medical student members of their EMIG, and APPs.  

    One winner will be randomly selected for a WACEP fleece, and $200 to be applied toward food/catering for you and your colleagues during a shift in the ED or a department meeting.

    Contest Rules:

    • Post your pictures of healthy snacks, meals or healthy eating tips on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #eatwellWACEP. (Make sure your posts are public!). 
    • Follow WACEP on Twitter @WisconsinACEP and Facebook @WiACEP
    • One entry per post. Unlimited entries.  
    • One winner will be randomly selected by drawing on May 15, 2018. 
  • April 13, 2018 9:31 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Wisconsin law enforcement agencies will again hold Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 28. Police and sheriffs’ departments will host events throughout Wisconsin as part of the event. 

    The goal of Prescription Drug Take Back Day is to provide a safe, convenient and responsible method of disposal for unused or expired prescription drugs. The events also educate the community about potential abuse and consequences of improper storage and disposal of these medications. 

    Drug take back days are held each spring across the country. The October 2017 Drug Take Back events in Wisconsin collected 63,941 pounds of unused medications, the largest fall drug take back collection to date. Wisconsin also had more law enforcement agencies participate than any other state in the country with 266 police and sheriffs’ departments hosting 130 events. Since October 2015, the Drug Take Back Day program has successfully collected and disposed of nearly 360,000 pounds of unused medications in Wisconsin alone. 

    In addition to the semiannual Take Back Day, there are 349 permanent drug disposal drop boxes throughout Wisconsin, providing citizens a convenient, environmentally friendly and anonymous way to dispose of unused medications all year. 

    For more information, including a list of accepted medications, visit the “Dose of Reality” website, which also features an interactive map to find a drug take-back location.

  • April 03, 2018 11:42 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, signs proclamation declaring April 23-29, 2018 "Addiction Treatment Awareness Week" throughout the State of Wisconsin. National Addiction Treatment Week, an initiative by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), raises awareness that addiction is a disease, evidence-based treatments are available, and recovery is possible. 

    Nearly 20.5 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD), yet only 1 in 10 people with SUD receive treatment.[1] An estimated 1.8 million Americans have opioid use disorder (OUD) related to prescription opioids [2]; 626,000 have heroin-related OUD [3] with an estimated cost of over $504 billion [4]. Every year in the State of Wisconsin, an average of at least 1,706 people die from an alcohol-related issue. In 2016, an estimated 1,074 people died from a drug overdose in Wisconsin [5], according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

    “Generating awareness that addiction is a disease and more clinicians need to be trained in addiction medicine is critical to saving patients’ lives.” said Matthew Felgus, MD, FASAM, President, Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine. “We are thrilled that Governor Walker has taken this important step to help increase awareness in Wisconsin.” 

    National Addiction Treatment Week promotes that addiction is a disease, recovery is possible, and more clinicians need to enter the field of addiction medicine. 

    Learn more on how to get involved and spread the word about the need for a larger addiction medicine workforce.

    1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Washington, DC: HHS, November 2016. CH 4-2
    2 Council of Economic Advisers. (2017, November). The underestimated cost of the opioid crisis. Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President of the United States.
    3 ibid
    4 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

  • March 26, 2018 8:49 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    March 23, Wisconsin Medical Society Insurance and Financial Services

    The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (Fund) Board this week approved a 10 percent decrease in Fund fees for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This is the sixth decrease approved by the Fund Board in as many years.

    Wisconsin’s excellent medical liability environment is good for your organization’s business: money not spent to obtain coverage and settle claims can be allocated to improve quality and the overall patient experience.

    Your Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) continues to work vigilantly to preserve Wisconsin’s relatively stable medical liability environment, most recently by filing amicus briefs at both the appellate and Supreme Court level in Mayo v. the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund—a case that has challenged the constitutionality of the state’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases. We are also maintaining our active involvement in the primary insurance market, working with our exclusive partner, ProAssurance. Additionally, the WMS Holdings Risk Purchasing Group and Captive are designed to help health systems decrease liability costs and improve quality and efficiency.

    The Society was influential in obtaining this rate reduction through its participation on the Fund Board. This is a great example of how the Society’s advocacy efforts—which the profits generated by Wisconsin Medical Society Insurance & Financial Services help support—benefit the medical community in Wisconsin.

  • March 24, 2018 8:29 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    Lisa Maurer, MD, FACEP

    A huge thanks to all who came to our 2018 Spring Symposium in Madison last week!  I'm still riding high from all the amazing connections and inspiration.  Nothing like getting a bunch of problem-solving EM docs together in one place!  Our WACEP board is happy to have all the homework of following up on the fresh ideas and connections started there.  I was especially excited to see the electric partnership between WACEP, MCW EM, and UW EM.  An unstoppable trio that you can expect more from for years to come.  No offense to my urban community docs (my people!), but the residents and the docs from rural Wisconsin definitely were the VIPs of the event.  Your unique perspectives on our common issues are invaluable to us as an organization.  Keep 'em coming.

    Next up, WACEP looks ahead to having a big presence at Wisconsin Medical Society's House of Delegates meeting on April 14th in Madison and then at ACEP's Leadership and Advocacy Conference in Washington DC May 20-23.  Have a flare for Wisconsin public health, the business of medicine, or medical ethics?  Check out the HOD next month with our WACEP posse lead by Brad Burmeister and Jamie Schneider.  

    Want to dive into federal issues important to EM and meet with our federal legislators in person to discuss?  I promise ACEP makes it easy.  Let us know if you'd like to take advantage of WACEP funding available to support your travel expenses to the LAC.  

    This month, I would especially like to extend an invitation to those of you who are feeling rundown by the holes in the healthcare system that present themselves repeatedly in our departments. I can guarantee that participation in our organization in an active way will help you feel a new sense of control in your practice, and many have found it to be extremely life-giving for their careers.  Give us a heads up if we can welcome you as a guest at our next board meeting on June 12th in Delafield.

  • March 21, 2018 12:03 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

    March 21, Wisconsin Health News

    The Senate approved more than a dozen bills during its final planned floor period of the session Tuesday, sending them to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk for approval.

    The bills range from creating an intensive care coordination program in Medicaid, supporting efforts to fight the opioid epidemic and providing grants to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

    But the chamber didn’t take up some proposals approved by the Assembly in recent weeks. That includes bills that would define direct primary care in state law and allow small businesses to band together and self-insure their health plans.

    The bills approved by the Senate and heading to the governor would:

    • Create an intensive care coordination pilot in the Medicaid program.
    • Provide funding to fight drug trafficking, support prevention, establish treatment courts and offer medication-assisted treatment to those leaving jails.
    • Boost treatment and prevention efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
    • Allow first responders, emergency medical technicians and ambulance services providers to renew their certifications or licenses every three years instead of two years.
    • Allow podiatrists to supervise physician assistants and advanced practice nurse prescribers.
    • Axe a state law requiring the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board to appoint a board of trustees to manage its mental health facilities and modify how members are appointed to the board.
    • Guarantee pharmacists can delegate duties to pharmacy technicians, following confusion about current state regulation.
    • Allow the Department of Health Services to expand a dental reimbursement pilot program to additional counties. 
    • Provide $500,000 to award grants to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in rural and underserved areas. 
    • Require 911 dispatchers to provide assistance on administering CPR over the phone. 
    • Recognize supported decision-making agreements, which allow older adults and those with disabilities to designate another person to help them make a decision. 
    • Prohibit the sale of dextromethorphan, an ingredient in over-the counter cough medicine, to children without a prescription.
    • Require the Department of Veterans Affairs to administer a program providing outreach and mental health services to at-risk veterans.
    • Make it easier for physicians licensed in other states to treat patients at certain sporting events.
    • Change how high an applicant has to score on an examination to be granted a chiropractor license. 
    • Allow unaccompanied youth access to outpatient mental health treatment without parental consent.
    • Require health plans to cover refills of prescription eye drops