While forced to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Doctor Day 2022 delivered a heavy dose of timely health care-related information to hundreds joining online February 8. A joint effort of 20 sponsors supporting physicians and their ability to practice medicine, Doctor Day 2022 was emceed by Wisconsin Medical Society President Alicia Arnold, MD.
MEB Chair Sheldon Wasserman, MD,
WisMed President Alicia Arnold, MD
After Dr. Arnold’s greeting to attendees, the three-hour program started with a keynote address from State of Wisconsin Medical Examining Board (MEB) Chair Sheldon Wasserman, MD. Currently in his second stint leading the MEB, Dr. Wasserman explained the makeup of the Board’s roster, its duties and what Board members do in preparation for and attending its monthly meetings. He shared general comments regarding the types of complaints the Board sees and how protecting the public intersects with also protecting the reputation of the practice of medicine. Dr. Wasserman highlighted a proposed administrative rule currently before the MEB that would require physicians to have chaperones when conducting certain sensitive patient exams. Dr. Wasserman said the MEB consistently sees complaints about these exams, and that a stricter rule would protect both patients and physicians.
Axley Attorneys Aneet Kaur, Guy DuBeau
Following Dr. Wasserman’s presentation, attorneys Guy DuBeau and Aneet Kaur from the Axley law firm in Madison provided an update on recent legal developments affecting health care, including a new federal law banning “surprise billing,” where patients receive bills for medical services provided by out-of-network entities. The attorneys also discussed recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions related to COVID-19 vaccination mandates. One ruling overturned a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirement that most businesses with 100 or more employees implement a vaccination/testing program. The other decision upheld the ability of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to set a vaccination standard for workers in health care facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid. DuBeau and Kaur also previewed the Court’s pending decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which will decide whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are constitutional. A decision from the Court is expected in late June or early July 2022.
L to R, clockwise: Farrow, Ross, Wikler, Arnold, MD
The program then moved into purely political territory, with the leaders of the state’s two major political parties taking questions about Wisconsin’s upcoming elections, including major races for Governor and U.S. Senate. WisPolitics.com Editor JR Ross refereed a back-and-forth between Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Ben Wikler and Republican Party of Wisconsin chair Paul Farrow. Both party leaders made cases for how their candidates would prevail in November and how health care issues could play a major role in voters’ decision-making.
Ramie Zelenkova of Hubbard, Wilson & Zelenkova
The final presentations focused on specific legislation still pending in the Wisconsin State Legislature. Ramie Zelenkova, a partner in one of the state’s top contract lobbying firms (Hubbard, Wilson & Zelenkova) highlighted the Wisconsin Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ efforts to increase access to continuous postpartum care for new moms participating in Medicaid. Assembly Bill 592 and Senate Bill 562 would extend Medicaid coverage for a full 12-month postpartum period for new mothers who may lose eligibility after delivering their babies. Wisconsin Medical Society Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Mark Grapentine, JD gave the latest update on bills allowing certain advanced practice nurses to practice independently: Senate Bill 394 and Assembly Bill 396. Both Zelenkova and Grapentine emphasized the timeliness of physicians contacting their elected officials on these proposals.
Dr. Arnold wrapped up Doctor Day 2022 with a reminder to all attendees that successful physician advocacy is not a single “one and done” affair each year. She urged her peers to help support their patients and their profession by being more regularly involved with health care issues and to find ways to build relationships with their State Senator and State Assembly Representative.
Doctor Day 2023 will likely be in the spring of that year, as the state legislature will be debating the 2023-2025 biennial state budget – stay tuned for an announcement on the date. Thanks to all of you who attended this year’s event, and we look forward to having next year’s gathering in person.
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