April 30, 2010Client Alert

Health Care Update - April 2010

Federal Legislation

President Obama signed HR 4851 on April 15, 2010. This bill once again pushed back the potential Medicare physician payment cuts that would occur through application of the sustainable growth rate formula. The potential 21 percent cut is now delayed until June 1, 2010. The bill also extends subsidies for COBRA health coverage and allows doctors with hospital-based practices to qualify for the federal electronic health record incentive payments.

Wisconsin Legislation Signed into Law

Governor Doyle signed the Critical Access Hospitals Bill (“WI Act 190”) on April 19, 2010, which assesses rural hospitals designated as critical access hospitals in order to create a fund, combined with federal Medicaid funding, to pay Medical Assistance claims. In addition, the Bill encourages more rural physician practices by adding funds to loan repayment and supporting the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s promotion of rural residency programs.

Also, WI Act 209 changes the general rule that written consent be obtained before testing someone for HIV. The new state law generally assumes consent but requires a tester to inform the subject of the test and of the option to refuse.

Wisconsin Legislation Passed by Both Houses but Awaiting Governor’s Signature

  • 2009 SB 163
    • Requires any health insurance plan covering diagnostic or surgical procedures to cover colorectal cancer examinations and laboratory tests for any enrollee over 50 and any enrollee under 50 at high risk for colorectal cancer.
  • 2009 SB 362
    • Changes current laws regulating health insurers related to coverage of mental disorders and substance abuse problems.
  • 2009 AB 699
    • Makes clear that health insurance companies offering wellness programs will not violate state unfair trade or marketing practices as long as certain requirements are met.
  • 2009 AB 779
    • Authorizes the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to designate a nonprofit corporation to apply for and receive federal funding to create an electronic health information exchange.
    • This bill is more thoroughly described in our March Update.

  • 2009 AB 877
    • Amends a number of regulatory provisions administered by the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board, including:
      • Procedures involved in suspending a medical license;
      • Requiring a licensed physician to report to the Board any unprofessional conduct or medical incompetence by another licensed physician;
      • Review of continuing medical education requirements; and
      • Allowing physicians with temporary licenses to prescribe narcotics.
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