Nearly 1,000 people filled an exhibit hall at Madison’s Monona Terrace March 21 to attend WHA’s 2018 Advocacy Day and hear keynote addresses from Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Mara Liasson, correspondent for NPR and contributor to Fox News Channel. Over half of the attendees also ventured up to the state capitol in Madison to meet with their state senator and representative on issues impacting Wisconsin’s hospitals, including Medicaid reimbursement and a proposal to implement a government fee schedule in Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation program.
Bob Van Meeteren, WHA Board chair and president/CEO of Reedsburg Area Medical Center, welcomed attendees to Advocacy Day. “Every year that I’ve attended Advocacy Day, I am so impressed by the number of people who gather for this event and the passion you all have for your community hospitals, and this year is no different,” said Van Meeteren.
To kick off Advocacy Day, Van Meeteren introduced a video message from Gov. Scott Walker, recorded in advance at the Governor’s residence in Madison. In his remarks, Walker thanked everyone in attendance for contributing to Wisconsin’s achievement as the best state in the country for high-quality health care.
“On behalf of our citizens, I want to say thank you! We are so proud that our health care systems in Wisconsin are ranked number one in the nation for quality. That is so important to individuals and families all over the state, as our health is a top priority. It is also a great recruiting tool for top talent and new employers to the state,” said Walker.
The Governor told the crowd he is “proud to have such a great working relationship with WHA staff and members,” and highlighted several accomplishments achieved by working together.
“We’ve made major investments in Medicaid to keep our systems strong and to care for those in need. We even added more through the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program,” said Walker, referring to the last budget he signed into law, which increased Wisconsin’s DSH program by $25 million in state funds. The Governor went on to talk about additional investments in the state’s health care workforce, medical education campus expansion, eliminating the waiting period for children’s long-term care services and recent legislation—signed into law at Tomah Memorial Hospital—to create a reinsurance program in Wisconsin to help stabilize the individual health insurance market.
“Together, we will continue to reinforce Wisconsin’s reputation as a national leader in health care. Thank you for your service to your system, your community and to our state.”