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Healthcare oversight bills head to governor

Healthcare oversight bills head to governor

The Republican-led Legislature approved bills Tuesday and Wednesday that would give them more oversight over healthcare as Gov.-elect Tony Evers prepares to take office. The bills now head to Gov. Scott Walker.

A bill that would codify Medicaid work requirements into state law passed the Senate 18-15 on party lines. The Assembly approved the bill 59-32, with Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, joining Democrats in voting against it.

Lawmakers amended the bill to require legislative approval for the Department of Health Services to request, renew, suspend or terminate a waiver. The bill also gives legislators more oversight on how DHS implements it. The previous bill targeted requests for federal approval from all state agencies.

They also tweaked it so that DHS would only have to seek Joint Finance Committee approval of Medicaid state plan amendments, rate changes and supplemental payments to providers if they cost more than $7.5 million over a one-year period.

That approval would be subject to a 14-day passive review process, meaning the change would go into effect if members of the budget-writing committee don’t schedule a meeting to review it. Medicaid changes in enacted legislation aren’t subject to the provisions.

The changes came as three more Wisconsin healthcare organizations joined a letter signed by 30 providers, healthcare associations, insurance companies and others asking lawmakers to strip the Medicaid proposals from the legislation.

Legislators didn’t change provisions in the bill targeting the state’s planned Medicaid work and premium requirements for some childless adults. If Walker approves the bill as written, Evers would have to seek legislative approval to modify or discontinue the program.

Evers also wouldn’t be able to make major changes to the state’s reinsurance program, which aims to lower premiums in the individual market, under the proposal.

The Legislature approved another bill preventing Evers from withdrawing Wisconsin from a lawsuit it filed to invalidate the Affordable Care Act unless the Joint Finance Committee signs off. The bill would allow the Legislature to intervene in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of a law, in which case it would have to approve compromising or discontinuing a lawsuit.

The substitute amendment adopted by lawmakers that replaces the bill’s original language did not contain provisions adding members appointed by legislative leaders to a board overseeing the state employee health plan. And it didn’t include Senate confirmation of Group Insurance Board members appointed by the governor.

The Senate voted down a proposal Wednesday morning that aimed to guarantee protections for those with pre-existing conditions, with Sens. David Craig, R-Big Bend, and Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, joining Democrats in opposing the measure.

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