Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) lobbyist Michael Heifetz shared some insights about the upcoming budget cycle including what to watch for and where and how to engage. Heifetz is a seasoned health insurance executive and senior state government leader demonstrating leadership and business acumen within a highly charged political environment.
1. What are we anticipating for the budget cycle regarding health care?
Due to the economic difficulties and high unemployment, this will be one of the most difficult budget cycles in decades. However, there are still priorities Governor Evers has outlined – and proposed – previously. These include Medicaid expansion. While the Republican majority in the Legislature likely remain adamantly opposed to this “expansion of welfare,” deeply conservative states such as Oklahoma, Nebraska and Idaho have approved it in the last two years. Wisconsin also stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars if it expands, which will be difficult to overlook in a very challenging budget – particularly with COVID response funding needed on multiple levels and more Wisconsinites needing public assistance due to the struggling economy.
2. What should physicians be most engaged in?
Physicians should be engaged in sharing with the Society how COVID has impacted their practices and their patients – both clinically and financially. Physicians should also engage in public policy by learning about their state legislators and focusing on issues prioritized by the members of the Society. These include Medicaid expansion, scope of practice dynamics (such as this session’s physician assistants legislation) and behavioral health and substance use disorder issues.
3. How can physicians help advocate as we approach the height of election season?
Physicians, like other professions and interest groups, can and should contribute to the Wisconsin Medical Society political action committee (PAC) or conduit. Through these contributions, we support legislation and candidates that support independent physician practices and the Society public policy priorities determined by the Council on Legislation and the larger membership. The Society contributes on a bipartisan basis. The important part is participation.
To make political contributions via WISMedPAC or WISMedDIRECT, contact Heidi Green, Director of Development and Political Giving at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608.442.3720.
Society members should reach out to HJ Waukau to share their thoughts, learn more about these issues and discuss opportunities to participate in public policy.
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