As the largest physician specialty organization in the state of Wisconsin, WAFP strives daily to advocate for the practice of family medicine and strong access to healthcare for Wisconsin patients. In an effort to seek member input and assistance in prioritizing a legislative agenda, WAFP leadership in conjunction with the WAFP government affairs team developed a legislative survey.
Between August 20 and September 4, WAFP circulated the survey to all members asking for input and opinion on a range of legislative issues facing family physicians. The survey consisted of eight multiple choice questions. Each question asked whether the topic was very important, somewhat important, or not important to the survey respondent. Additionally, there was an opportunity to identify additional items considered important to members.
During its circulation, 294 members responded to the survey. Following is a summarized breakdown of survey results.
Question 1: Financial Assistance for Independent Physicians for COVID-19 Services – Seek financial assistance for independent practice family physicians who have provided treatments to patients infected with COVID-19. While state financial assistance was awarded to hospital systems, there has been no comparable assistance for independent practice physicians.
Question 2: Direct Primary Care – Seek state statute clarity that direct primary care agreements are not health insurance policies in order to ensure direct primary care practices are not regulated by the same set of laws as insurance companies. Twenty-three states have similar laws.
Question 3: Scope of Practice of Mid-Level Providers – In recent legislative sessions, there have been attempts to expand scopes of practice for mid-level providers in order to provide more independence for those providers. The WAFP continues to oppose attempts to expand scope of practice of mid-level providers (physicians assistants, nurse practitioners).
Question 4: Medicaid Expansion – It is the WAFP’s position to continue to advocate for the state to accept Medicaid Expansion dollars to stimulate the overall Medicaid budget to allow for a greater expansion of services and to alleviate budgetary shortages due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
Question 5: Vaccinations – Since the 1997-98 school year, the percentage of students requesting a medical or religious exemption has been relatively constant, while those requesting a personal conviction exception has grown from 1.2 percent of students to 4.6 percent of students in 2018-19. This increase in personal conviction exceptions has led to an overall drop in the percentage of students who meet the minimum immunization requirements. WAFP is currently advocating for increased vaccination rates among Wisconsin’s students by removing the “personal conviction exemption” that allows parents to opt children out of receiving vaccinations for any reason, but still maintain “medical exemptions” and “religious exemptions” in state law.
Question 6: Telehealth Payment Parity – WAFP currently supports payment parity in telehealth visits, including for phone and/or video visits, including coverage for all visits regardless of services provided.
Question 7: Scope of Practice – WAFP continues to advocate for family physicians to practice to the full scope of their license and training.
Question 8: Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program – Seek additional funds in the 2020-21 state budget to continue funding the UW – administered WRPRAP program to ensure the expansion of residency opportunities at rural hospitals.
The survey concluded by asking members for general input on other policy issues not addressed in the survey questions. WAFP leadership is in the process of reading through those comments and will look to incorporate that input into a final legislative agenda.
In analyzing the data, WAFP members are especially interested in three particular issues: protecting patient safety through addressing attempts by mid-level practitioners to practicing independently, promoting public health by advocating for sensible vaccination policies, and fair reimbursement levels by pushing for payment parity in telehealth and Medicaid expansion.
In preparation for the 2021-22 legislative session, which begins in January, WAFP’s leadership and lobbyists, Tim Hoven and Erik Kanter, will utilize the survey results to develop WAFP’s 2021-22 Legislative Agenda. The ultimate goal of the agenda is to state the initiatives WAFP will spearhead, often in conjunction with coalition partners, to proactively advocate for, as well as framing the issues we will advocate against if and when they arise throughout the two-year session.
Thank you to all who responded. Your responses helped focus our priorities to ensure we properly address issues important to our members. We truly appreciate your time and input.