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Vol. 12, No. 22 December 1, 2016

Welcome to the HealthWatch Wisconsin Update Newsletter, a bi-monthly publication with exclusive features for members of HealthWatch Wisconsin.

 "Connecting Kids to Health Coverage"

In this issue...

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Register Now for the 10th Annual HealthWatch Wisconsin Conference

The theme of this week's Update Newsletter is all about connecting kids to health care coverage. The health care landscape is changing, but we remain dedicated to keeping kids covered--no matter what the future may bring.

If you share that commitment, we invite you to work with us by joining HealthWatch Wisconsin in Madison on March 22 & 23, 2017 at our 10th Annual HealthWatch Wisconsin Conference. Whether you're a public health professional, advocate, navigator, counselor, or anyone who helps children gain access to health care coverage, you are welcome to attend!

The best part?

For the first time ever, Day 1 of the conference is FREE for members or subscribers of HealthWatch Wisconsin - or free with the purchase of a membership. 

Not a member or subscriber? It's not too late to join and take advantage of big discounts. Click on the registration button to save your seat! 

This annual gathering brings together state policy-makers, public health departments, health care providers, and advocates. Attendees will learn about health coverage policies, practices and the latest strategies to help guide people to the health care and coverage they need and deserve.

10th Annual HealthWatch Wisconsin Conference
March 22 & 23, 2017
Masonic Center, Madison, WI

The conference begins at 1:00pm on Wednesday, March 22 with an afternoon of "Back to Basics" sessions, centered on health coverage programs impacting Wisconsin children. The conference continues the morning of Thursday, March 23 with the very popular legislative panel that will discuss the direction of health policy in Wisconsin. This is a great opportunity for health care service providers from around the state to gather and learn the changes ahead in both state & federal rules and policies behind both public & private health care coverage programs.

In conjunction with the annual conference, HealthWatch Wisconsin pauses to remember those doing outstanding work in connecting individuals to health care and coverage. Starting today, HealthWatch Wisconsin is seeking nominations for the Annual HealthWatch Wisconsin Awards, to recognize outstanding work in the healthcare advocacy, service, and reporting! Nominations can be made in the following categories:

  • Advocate of the Year
  • Outstanding Media Coverage
  • Outreach Effort of the Year
  • Elected Official of the Year

Click HERE to make your nomination today!

Nominations are due by Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

We look forward to seeing all of you in March!

Top Story: Connecting Kids to Health Coverage & Care

The Children's Health Fund reported last week that 20.3 million children "lack access to care that meets modern pediatric standards." This, in an era where a record number of individuals are finally gaining access to insurance. The report, "Unfinished Business" based its findings on three considerations: 1. Children who are uninsured, 2. Children who are insured but not receiving regular primary care, and 3. Children who are publicly insured, connected to primary care, but still not receiving essential, timely specialty care. The data they used was from nationally available health data sets, braided with their own programmatic data.

The authors of the report offer recommendations directed at policymakers to facilitate access to care for children, especially those already connected to coverage. They include reducing or eliminating co-payments, increasing reimbursement rates for treating physicians especially those in underserved communities, and increasing incentives for health care providers to practice in underserved communities. They also suggest implementing additional health care innovations, such as telehealth and mobile clinics.

The authors celebrate the strides that have been made, saying, "Without losing sight of the improvements we’ve made as a country including at least 6 million more insured children since 1997 - the purpose is to raise awareness about the work that remains."

The report comes at a time when the future of health care and coverage for children is increasingly uncertain. President-Elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act. The future of Medicaid could be in the form of "block grants to states." The Children’s Health Fund continues, "Key programs that contributed to improved children's health care like CHIP and the ACA are not limitless. CHIP funding is set to expire in 2017, the ACA will doubtless be subject to revisions."

Wisconsin's Uninsured Children

Here in Wisconsin, connecting children to health care and coverage is a continuous effort. There are many areas of the state - including areas in northern and west-central Wisconsin where there are large numbers of children eligible for BadgerCare Plus but not enrolled. Analysis of census data and survey data from the Urban Institute for select western Wisconsin counties reveals that there are 211,072 children under the age of 18 of which 16,888 do not have health insurance, representing 28% of the total number of children in Wisconsin under age 18 without health insurance, all primarily living in rural areas.

Numerous enrollment and retention barriers exist for low-income families due to the rural aspect of these counties. Such barriers include lack of knowledge and access to education about BadgerCare Plus, longer travel times to hospitals or enrollment assistance, and lack of resources that can assist people with the program, education, and enrollment issues.

Other families lack awareness of BadgerCare Plus because accurate and timely information and assistance is hard to find in rural areas. Access to the internet for low-income people is extremely limited. Geographic isolation is compounded by limited public transportation that is often unavailable to help connect a family to the agencies or advocates that may assist with BadgerCare Plus activities.

The access to quality health care is a major challenge in rural areas, with only 9% of physicians practicing in these rural areas, while more than 50% of rural patients have to drive 60 or more miles to receive specialty care.

Wisconsin Coverage Connections

We are hopeful that in Wisconsin, a collaborative, new project will address the exact issues highlighted in the Children's Health Fund report. The purpose behind the "Wisconsin Coverage Connections" Project is to target rural, western Wisconsin counties and provide enhanced direct service, outreach and education to help close some of those uninsurance gaps.

Wisconsin Coverage Connections is a collaborative project of Northwest WI CEP, Inc. ABC for Health, Inc., ABC for Rural Health, Inc., Workforce Resource, Inc., Workforce Connections, Inc. and CESAs #4, 10, 11 & 12. The overall project goals are to increase enrollment and retention in BadgerCare Plus for Wisconsin children and parents; increase effectiveness of outreach activities; improve access to health care coverage and services for the underserved; and improve the health of our community.

Using the "3 Steps to Health Care Coverage" Approach

Helping a family apply for coverage is not always the end of the story. Administrative hoops and hurdles stand in the way of connecting an insured family to necessary care and services. Families are dropped from programs at the time of renewal for failure to take appropriate administrative steps.

Advocates and assisters can not only ensure that people connect to vital health care coverage and understand their benefits but also have access to the care they need by providing help in navigating the myriad barriers to obtaining necessary medical care.

Advocates and assisters can share a resource that will help alleviate some of the confusion around health benefits and care. Below, in our "Wisconsin Coverage Connections Featured Resource" section, we share the "3 Steps to Health Care Coverage" guides - both in English and Spanish. The guides are intended to be shared with families, to help them understand basic steps to get, use, and keep their BadgerCare Plus coverage. It's a small way to start connecting families to coverage, and empowering them to cut through some of the administrative and attitudinal barriers to be able to better use their coverage. It also helps families who have gained coverage keep their coverage with a few strategies and reminders.

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Wisconsin Coverage Connections Featured Resource: "3 Steps to Health Care Coverage" Video and Companion Kit

BadgerCare Plus is Wisconsin's unique public health care coverage program. Many people throughout the state are eligible for free or low-cost health insurance offered by the state and administered through local Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). This means more people, especially those with lower incomes or no income can have health coverage, just like plans offered directly from insurance companies and the Health Insurance Marketplace.

BadgerCare Plus is sometimes referred to as "family Medicaid," or a combination of "Medicaid and CHIP," two federal programs that help fund Wisconsin's coverage, along with state dollars. Wisconsin's BadgerCare Plus program offers comprehensive medical benefits at low or no cost. Many children, individuals, and families in Wisconsin are eligible for (but not enrolled in) low-cost or free health care coverage through Medicaid or BadgerCare Plus. Why?

Because connecting to the right coverage program can be complicated!

The changing national landscape of health coverage makes it difficult to keep the programs and rules straight! Many of the provisions of the landmark Health Reform law signed by President Obama in 2010 impact BadgerCare Plus, such as how to count income in a household using a method now uniform across all states. Similarly,  Wisconsin's own State laws and policies define the parameters of the program coverage and administration. 

As new research identifies the millions of children across the country who are not connected to necessary coverage and care, we hope these resources can help bridge some gaps! We start with our video – "3 Steps to Health Care Coverage." We'll briefly explain how to get, use, and keep BadgerCare Plus.



Then, we share our "3 Steps to Health Care Coverage Kits," in ENGLISH and SPANISH. In these booklets, we simplify the state and federal rules and laws to help explain who is eligible for BadgerCare Plus.  We identify where to go for help. We explain the timeline and what happens after one submits an application for coverage. We also explain how the coverage works. Finally, we'll share a few tips and reminders of what to do once an applicant has BadgerCare Plus - how they USE their benefits, and how they KEEP their coverage. These publications are developed in an easy-to-print format. Feel free to download the kits and share them with families.

Hosted on the HealthWatch Wisconsin website is the "3 Steps Video Library" page, with a growing video library and downloadable resources. This is YOUR place to learn or refresh your understanding of health coverage and program rules. Enjoy our fun approach to learning the basics of BadgerCare Plus – we call it our "3 Steps to Health Care Coverage!" We discuss how you, and other professionals assisting families, can help families Apply, Use, and Keep BadgerCare Plus!

The project serves a targeted 27-county service area. Individuals working with families in other parts of the state may call to learn about resources closer to their region.

Marketplace Enrollment Snapshot

In a press release dated November 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released data on Marketplace plan sign-ups through November 26. In the release, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell says enrollment is going better than last year at this same time, "With plans available for less than $75 per month in premiums, 2.1 million Americans have already selected coverage through HealthCare.gov, more than had signed up at this time last year. I hear from people across the country just how much coverage matters to them, so I continue to encourage all Americans who need health insurance for 2017 to visit HealthCare.gov and check out their options. Consumers should be sure to enroll by December 15th for coverage that starts January 1st."

According to the release, over 2.1 million people have selected plans using HealthCare.gov since Open Enrollment began on November 1, including over half a million new consumers and 1.6 million consumers renewing their coverage.

Compared to this same time last year, enrollment represents an increase of 167,000 plan selections and the total number of plan selections at this point exceeds last year by over 97,000.

These releases are made available to the public every two weeks, and can be accessed on the CMS Newsroom website.

Price is Right? Trump Appoints Tom Price as Secretary of HHS

President-elect Donald Trump selected Georgia Rep. Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Price is known as a fierce critic of the Affordable Care Act and a proponent of overhauling the nation's entitlement programs.

As reported by the Washington Post, Trump called Price "exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible health care to every American" shortly after the appointment--a statement and symbolic appointment.

President-Elect Trump's pick was a signal that, according to Sarah Kliff of Vox, "shows he's absolutely serious about dismantling Obamacare." In a segment on the NPR NewsHour, Kliff explained what we know about Congressman Price, and what he has in mind for Obamacare, saying, "He's a congressman who has spent a lot of time thinking about repeal and replace of Obamacare. He's the author of a 242-page replacement plan for Obamacare. He's the guy you would pick if you're quite serious about moving forward on Obamacare repeal."

Price has played a leading role in the Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act since its enactment.  During Obama's presidency, the GOP-led House voted over 40 times to eliminate the ACA and replace the Act with bills that Price helped draft, but attempts to advance the bills were unsuccessful.

After 10 years in the Georgia State Senate, Rep. Price has spent the last 10+ years in the US House of Representatives, where he currently sits as the House Budget Chair. He authored "Empowering Patients First Act," the detailed replacement plan that he says will "repeal and replace" Obamacare. But according to Sabrina Corlette of Georgetown University, a bill like this is not a "repeal and replace" kind of bill. "Don't think that we can say anything that the Republicans have put forward, including Mr. Price, constitutes a replacement of the Affordable Care Act, because none of the proposals, including Mr. Price's proposal, would cover nearly the same number of people that the Affordable Care Act covers, nor would it provide the same consumer protections for people with preexisting conditions."

The "replacement bill" would be benefiting the young, healthy, and wealthy to the disadvantage of the older, poorer, and sicker Americans. It would fully repeal Medicaid expansion, "which Price replaces with, well, nothing," as stated by Kliff.

The Price Bill restricts but does not ban discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. Like Obamacare, it would require insurance plans to offer coverage to all patients regardless of how sick they are. "But the Empowering Patients plan, unlike Obamacare, would let insurers charge sick people more if they did not maintain 'continuous coverage.'" Tax credits would be based on age and wealth (so, according to Kliff, "This means that that Bill Gates would qualify for the largest tax credit simply because he is 61 years old. Under the Empowering Patients bill, Gates's net worth of $83 billion - presumably enough to purchase health coverage — would do nothing to disqualify him. Under Obamacare, he gets no help.")

And what about Medicaid Expansion "replacement?" No such thing in Price's plan.

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Reminder: Enrollment Timeline & Key Notices

Pay Attention to Critical Deadlines: The first important deadline is December 15 - the date that folks will need to purchase insurance if they do not already have coverage, to avoid a coverage gap. Plans purchased by December 15 will have an effective date of January 1. If people already have an insurance plan in the Marketplace this year, and do nothing by December 15, their plan will auto-renew. They then have until the end of Open Enrollment (January 31) to switch plans if they would like a different one. For a listing of other key deadlines, see our list below:

Enrollment Timeline

Open Enrollment Begins November 1
Last Day to Enroll for Coverage to Start January 1st December 15
Last Date to Pick a Plan or be Auto-Renewed December 15
Coverage start dates for those who purchased a plan by Dec. 15 January 1
Date to Enroll for Coverage to Being February 1st January 15
Last Day of Open Enrollment January 31
Last Day to Switch Plans if you were Auto-renewed January 31
Coverage Begin Date for those enrolling on January 31st March 1
Tax Day! Reconcile tax credits and indicate if you have insurance April 15


Here are your Wisconsin Navigators! Keep these phone numbers handy to better direct people to local, in-person assistance as they shop, compare, and enroll in a Marketplace plan option.

Navigator Agency:  Phone:  Website:
Covering Wisconsin  608-261-1455 www.coveringwi.org
Northwest WI CEP, Inc.  888-780-4237 http://nwcep.org
Forest County Potawatomi Community  715-478-7200 www.fcpotawatomi.com

Remember: navigators have adopted a "no wrong door" policy - meaning, there are multiple paths to an individual's enrollment options - and multiple paths to help with those decisions. While navigators have targeted service areas, individuals are free to call ANY navigator to be directed to assistance. Individuals can apply at the Marketplace and still be assessed for Medicaid eligibility, or apply at the state and have an application forwarded to the Marketplace.

Bookmark It! Assister Resources from CMS

In its monthly newsletter to Assisters, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released two very helpful resources. We've made them our featured links in this week's "Bookmark It!" section of the Update newsletter!

The first resource is the "Standard Operating Procedures Manual for Assisters." It's meant for assisters working with individuals in states such as Wisconsin, which uses the Federally Facilitated Marketplace. According to CMS, "This Manual is a step-by-step instructional guide for assisters to use when assisting consumers with HealthCare.gov eligibility, enrollment and post enrollment application processes. It contains standard operating procedures (SOPs) that include screenshots; it details the processes for required and authorized assister activities within the Individual FFM.  It covers topics like privacy and security guidelines, creating an account, identity verification, paying premiums, and reporting life changes, to name just a few!"

The second updated resource is The Assister's Roadmap to Resources. As the library of helpful resources continues to grow, a robust index to help keep track of all of them was necessary! This resource was newly updated, and contains resources and clickable links from CMS and other federal agencies and non-federal organizations have produced a number of resources to help you in your role as assisters. According to CMS, "This tool provides an overview of important Marketplace and other health coverage topics, provides links to helpful resources on those topics, and contains information that assisters "Need to Know" when helping consumers apply for and enroll in Marketplace and other health coverage."

Reminder: Key Notices Still to Come For Marketplace Consumers

If you are a returning consumer to the Marketplace, you'll get a series of notices in the mail. Assisters and navigators should inform patients and consumers to watch for these letters.

Here are a few notices returning consumers should expect for the balance of the calendar year:

End of December: Auto-enrollment letter. If a current consumer does not pick a new plan by December 15, they will get a letter from the Marketplace saying they were auto-enrolled. The letter will remind them they have until the end of Open Enrollment to pick a new plan if they like.

If your plan leaves the Marketplace for 2017, you can expect extra mail! Here are some key notices the Kaiser Family Foundation has identified as mail you can expect:

Late December: Loss of 2016 plans in the Marketplace triggers a Special Enrollment Period! You will get a letter from the Marketplace in late December letting you know your rights and key deadlines to select a new plan.

ATTENTION ADVOCATES: End of the Month Reminder:

Friday, December 30 is the "last day of the month!" Consumers and advocates will need to submit applications for key public benefits programs by close of business at local consortia, typically 4:30pm in the afternoon, to ensure coverage for the month of December.

Also: Are you applying for BadgerCare Plus and requesting backdating? If you submit an application for BadgerCare Plus before the end of the day December 30*, you can request coverage back to September 1!

*Keep in mind the IM Consortia will be CLOSED some days over the holidays! All Consortium will be CLOSED 12/26/16 and 1/2/17.

Also, the Capitol Consortia's Call Center will be CLOSED 12/23/16 and 12/30/16 to accommodate county holiday leave. Be sure to check with your local consortia to know when they will be open in December and January!

What is "backdating?" Some people determined eligible for BadgerCare Plus may be able to have coverage that is retroactive! Generally, the rule is: a consumer is eligible for up to the first of the month, three calendar months prior to the month of application. If their family income was at or below the threshold for each of those months.

For Children: backdating is determined by age and income.

For Adults: Almost anyone at or below 100% FPL can backdate as long as they would have been under the threshold for each of those months.

Medicare: The "Other" Open Enrollment Period - Ends Dec. 7

Each year Medicare Beneficiaries have an opportunity to change their Part C Advantage plan and/or Part D prescription drug plans – but they may only do so in a short "open enrollment period," one that should not be confused with the Open Enrollment Period for Health Reform's Marketplace plans.

Medicare Open Enrollment is a person's chance to join, change, or drop a Part C or Part D plan. Changes take effect January 1, 2017. Medicare Open Enrollment for this year ends December 7!

Should an individual "shop" for new plans? It may be to their advantage. Beneficiaries should have received notice of any changes to their Part D plan, for instance. This "Annual Notice of Change," would give an idea of any premium changes, formulary or network changes, or if the plan even will continue to offer coverage in the coming year. Many plans change their terms of coverage from year to year, so it is in the beneficiary's best interest to compare plans and select the one that best fits their needs.

The Plan Finder tool on the Medicare website is a great place to start. You are able to search by location or actual prescription or pharmacy.  If someone needs more assistance, there are resources available!

  • The Board on Aging and Long-Term Care’s Part D Helpline (ages 60-plus), (855)677-2783
  • The Board on Aging and Long-Term Care’s Medigap Helpline, (800) 242-1060
  • Disability Rights Wisconsin’s Part D Helpline (ages 18-59), (800) 926-4862
Special Feature: Final Analysis of the Community Impact Report

In our past Update newsletters, we continued our series taking a closer look at the "2015 Community Impact Report: Wisconsin Hospitals: Caring for Our Neighbors," where hospitals share examples of contributions they made to the community, understanding that the measure of charity care alone is not sufficient to document commitment to community.

HealthWatch Wisconsin finishes that exercise today. Our analysis provides opportunities to further reduce the amount of uncompensated care. We call this analysis - and ways to optimize coverage for patients, "Precision Patient Advocacy.™" We look at income, family structure, conditions and work status, immigration status, tax responsibilities, and much more to offer a patient the best possible options to maximize their coverage opportunities. This means not just an "excused bill," but connection to a coverage system.

We preface the analysis by stating that we understand this appears to be "backseat driving." Our goal is to help stimulate more discussion, when viewing a set of patient facts, on how to best help patients.

Here is our last case review, starting with a brief summary of one of the stories provided in the Community Impact Report.

In our past few Update newsletters we took a closer look at the "2015 Community Impact Report: Wisconsin Hospitals: Caring for Our Neighbors,"  where hospitals document their contributions to the community in areas of uncompensated care, free clinics and other community health efforts.

We put our "Precision Patient Advocacy" lens on again to review another charity care story called "Filling the Gaps in Coverage" to see what coverage options that the patient might have had other than uncompensated care.

A man in his late fifties lives alone and has many health issues that make it difficult for him to work. He barely is able to do part time work at minimum wage. He maintained medical coverage for many months through Medicaid, which has enabled him to manage his multiple chronic illnesses effectively, but his coverage lapsed in late spring. When uninsured, he skipped doctors appointments and found himself admitted to the hospital for a ten day stay. He was approved for charity care to cover that hospital bill.

Consider the following questions and information that could help connect him to more stable resources:

Why did he have a lapse in coverage? It sounds like maintaining access to insurance is what helps him remain at work and out of the hospital, so finding a way to maintain his coverage – perhaps through case management or other services – could provide better health outcomes. We know that the Medicaid world is complicated, so connecting patients with advocates can be helpful.

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Watch This! 3 Steps to Health Care Coverage

What is BadgerCare Plus? Who's covered under the program? What services are covered under BadgerCare Plus? How do you apply, use, and keep BadgerCare Plus?

Learn the answers to these questions and more in our 3 Steps to Health Care Coverage welcome video. The video is your first step towards building familiarity with the Medicaid program, with the potential to protect and cover eligible children and families across the state of Wisconsin.

Dive deeper in our 3 Steps Video Library, where you can access all the resources you'll need to help children and families acquire coverage through this program!

For more tips regarding the complexities of healthcare coverage, visit our complete Video Case Tip Library.

ICYMI: Cost-Sharing Reduction Litigation Put on Hold

On November 21, 2016, the House of Representatives filed a motion to further delay any action in the lawsuit of United States House of Representatives v. Burwell.  The House initially brought forward this lawsuit in 2014 amid a flurry of other challenges to the Affordable Care Act. This particular suit challenged the payments made to insurance companies by the Administration for reducing cost sharing for low-income Marketplace enrollees. It was unique from other challenges, as it was brought by the US House – a party with questionable standing to sue another branch of the federal government.

Cost sharing subsidies were one of the major components of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) ability to increase access to affordable health insurance and reduce uninsurance rates.  The ACA allows for the insurers to bill the government for the costs associated with these cost sharing reduction (CSR) policies. 

In its suit, the House claims that no funds were ever designated by Congress for the CSR program and are therefore illegal payments to insurance companies.  The Administration argues that when Congress adopted the appropriation for premium tax credits, this included the CSR payments.  Additionally, they claim that the House does not even have the ability to sue the Administration and therefore the Court should not hear the case.

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ICYMI: High Benchmark Premiums Actually Lead to Savings for Many

Multiple reports state monthly premiums for the Benchmark Silver plan in the Marketplace are set to increase by an average of 25 percent from 2016 to 2017. This has raised a number of concerns and criticism of the ACA amidst the new administration saying that repealing and replacing the ACA is their top priority. 

This 25% figure however, can be misleading because it does not account for the increase in premium subsidies. Premium subsidies are financial assistance provided to those with income levels up to 400% of the federal poverty level who purchase plans from the Marketplace. These tax credits could not only prevent most people enrolled in the Marketplace from seeing a premium increase, they could also result in lower post-subsidy premiums for many people.

This is possible because looking at the Benchmark Silver plan can be deceiving.

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CYSHCN Corner: 3 C's for CYSHCN

Ask a Good Question...

I heard there were changes coming to Katie Becket Regions. What are they – and will they impact my child's Medicaid?

Get a Good Answer...

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HealthWatch Wisconsin Coalition Corner

Tri-County: The last meeting took place November 22 at the Goodwill Community Center in Menasha. Beth Clay, Director of the NEW Mental Health Connection, presented on a project underway to increase the community's ability to navigate mental health and AODA services, and to identify service gaps that increase the perception and the experience of access-to-service problems.

Milwaukee: The Milwaukee HealthWatch Coalition is seeking nominations for Co-Chair and Steering Committee! As you may already know, this coalition is the longest running HealthWatch coalition in the state. Nominations are due before the next meeting taking place Wednesday, December 14 at Aurora Family Services on Highland Boulevard, where an "Open Enrollment Update" will be provided; representatives from Covering Wisconsin and DHS will share information, and there will be an opportunity for discussion and questions. Send Matt an email for more information on nominations.

Polk: ABC for Rural Health will host a free training: "Ask the Right Question: An introduction to effective health benefits screening" December 14 at the Polk County Health Department Building. This training will cover the basics of BadgerCare, Medicaid, and Marketplace topics. To RSVP, please contact Mike Rust with ABC for Rural Health by email or phone: (715)485-8525

Dane County: The last meeting took place November 7 at the Waisman Community Outreach Center, and included the annual food drive for Second Harvest. Jon Peacock from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF) presented on the 2017-2018 State Budget, and how the budget may affect access to coverage and care. Updates were also provided from the Dane County ADRC and Capital Consortium. The next meeting takes place Monday, December 5 from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at the Waisman Community Outreach Center.

Future Coalition Meetings Around the State


Next Meeting


Dane Dec. 5 Anna Kaminski
Chippewa Jan. 10 Rose Marsh
Eau Claire Jan. 5 Lou Kelsey
Milwaukee Dec. 14 LaCresia Mason
Polk Co/SafetyWeb Dec. 14 Mike Rust
Pierce TBD Rebecca Tomasek
Tri-County Dec. 27 Connie Raether

 Interested in Joining a Coalition in Your Area?

CLICK HERE to learn more about meetings of a HealthWatch Coalition in your region of the state.

SafetyWeb Network Corner: Federal Rural IMPACT Demo

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the Rural Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive (Rural IMPACT) initiative. The project aimed to develop 10 core sites in rural America—sites working to address child poverty. In theory, other communities could use sites' findings as a template then proceed to implement strategies from successful pilot areas. IMPACT sites wanted to empower two generations of partners—not only parents or children, but both—to develop a healthier future for families in rural America. The sites wanted to focus on "expansion and integration of child care, work support, job training, education for children or parents (or both), and family supports (including coaching, financial education, substance abuse treatment, other health supports, and other wrap-around service approaches.)"

On November 17, the White House released an official report, detailing year 1 of Rural IMPACT's pilot. The 30-page report details key findings, barriers to change, and lessons learned.

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More on the Safetyweb Project: ABC for Rural Health, Inc. and a group of community partners and experts secured a federal Rural Health Network grant to support the Safetyweb Health Benefits Counseling Network. This project will expand an existing collaboration to implement a health benefits counseling network that integrates new technology solutions to measurably improve access to health coverage and services for patients in Polk County Wisconsin. For more information contact ABC for Rural Health, Inc.'s COO, Mike Rust.

Headlines & Memos

Featured Headlines / Continuation of Past Articles

For Trump and GOP, 'Obamacare' Repeal is Complex and Risky | Washington Post

Tom Price: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know | Heavy

5 Things to Know About Rep. Tom Price's Health Care Ideas | NPR

Democrats Target Trump's HHS Choice, Warn Nomination Could Fail | McClatchy DC

Fewer People Are Struggling to Pay medical Bills: Shots | NPR

Costs of Widely Prescribed Drugs Jumped Up to 5,241% in Recent Years, Join Investigation Shows | Wisconsin Watch

The Search for a National Child Health Coverage Policy (subscription required) | Health Affairs

Knowledge About Health Insurance and Finance Linked to Higher Rates of Health Coverage | RAND

Demand For Support From Food Banks Has Increased Over the Past Year | WisCONTEXT

How Would Rural Hospitals Be Affected by Loss of the Affordable Care Act's Medicare Low-Volume Hospital Adjustment? | Journal of Rural Health

Government Agencies Collaborate to Improve Access to Rural Healthcare | PORK Network

US Adults Trail 11 Other Countries For Affordable, Accessible Health Care | Health Affairs

Defining the Health Care System's Role In Addressing Social Determinants And Population Health | Health Affairs

Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility and Appeals Final Rule & Companion NPRM AND Section 1115 Demonstration Opportunity to Cover Former Foster Care Youth Who Have Moved from a Different State | DHS

Trump Says He May Keep Parts of Obama Health Care Act | NY Times

Jagler: Health Care Industry Faces Compliance Challenges | Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

Wide-ranging US Health Bill Expected to Sail Through House Vote | Reuters

OMH Announces Data Resource for Study of Health Disparities and Social Determinants of Health | HHS


NEW! New Policies Effective October 3, 2016 Related to Life Insurance and Exemption from Certain Fees, Wisconsin Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program, published August 2016

NEW! BadgerCare Plus Eligibility Handbook, published August 8, 2016 in Release 16-02

NEW! Medicaid Eligibility Handbook (MEH), published Jun. 24, 2016 in Release 16-02

NEW! ACCESS Handbook, published July 11, 2016 in Release 16-01

NEW! Marketplace Handbook, published July 19

FoodShare Handbook, Release 16-01 published May 31, 2016.

Administrator's Memo 14-04, 2015 IM Consortia Administrative Allocation, has been published to the DHS website

Ops Memos

16-36: 2017 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

16-35: Processing Gap Filling Referrals from the Marketplace

16-34: Child Care and Development Fund Monitoring Requirements

16-33: Wisconsin Shares Policy Chapter 1 Revision

16-32: Changes to Child Care Help Desk

Provider Memos

2016-52: ForwardHealth Holiday Schedule

2016-51: ForwardHealth Holiday Schedule

2016-51: Licensed Midwives May Now Become Wisconsin Medicaid Providers

2016-50: Classic Optical Laboratories, Inc., Will Continue to Provide Eyeglass Materials Under New State Purchase Eyeglass Contract

2016-49: Hospital Access Payments Discontinued for State Fiscal Year 2016

Administrator's Memo:

16-06 "FoodShare FFY 14 Bonus Funds"

16-05 "Enhanced Federal Funding for Qualifying IM Activities"

16-04 "QUEST/Vault Card Process & Procedures"

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Update Staff:

  • Bobby Peterson, Executive Director
  • Brynne McBride, Chief Operating Officer
  • Ryan StasellExecutive Assistant
  • Matt Keller, HWW Membership Coordinator

Special thanks to ABC for Health staff for their contributions to this Update Newsletter