WisBusiness, WisPolitics Health Care Report for August 11

WisBusiness, WisPolitics Health Care Report for August 11

— The latest Marquette Law School Poll of registered voters in the state highlights “considerable reluctance” to be vaccinated against COVID-19 among unvaccinated respondents. 

Of the 807 voters polled Aug. 3-8, 68 percent said they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 26 percent said they haven’t been vaccinated. Another 7 percent said they don’t know or declined to answer.

Of those who haven’t been vaccinated, 49 percent said they will “definitely not” get the vaccine, while 27 percent said they probably won’t get it. Another 14 percent said they probably will get vaccinated, and 8 percent said they will definitely get vaccinated.

The survey’s results show Republican respondents were less likely to be vaccinated than independents or Democrats. And COVID-19 vaccine reluctance was higher among Republican respondents as well.

See more from the poll here.

— The Assembly Committee on Insurance recently heard testimony on a bill that would extend the allowable duration for short-term insurance plans from 18 months to 3 years.

“This simply provides an additional option for people who are looking to have more affordable coverage,” said Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, who authored the bill.

About 100,000 Wisconsinites are currently enrolled in short-term, limited-coverage plans, which are sold by eight companies in Wisconsin, Neylon said yesterday. He added that he does not think allowing these plans to last longer will encourage more people to enroll in them.

But Dems expressed concerns that the bill would encourage Wisconsinites to buy limited-coverage plans in place of traditional coverage.

Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, said she worries people will enroll in limited-coverage plans while they have unknown health conditions.

“Why in the world would we want to have people on these plans for longer than what they are right now when all these essential health benefits aren’t going to be covered?” Hesselbein said, citing a lack of mental health and emergency care services in limited-coverage plans. “I think too many people are going to get decimated by having these short-term plans.”

Rep. Sara Rodriguez, D-Brookfield, said young people could develop mental health issues that are not covered by their short-term health plans. She also expressed concern that people seeking affordable health care will enroll without disclosing pre-existing conditions, disqualifying them from Affordable Care Act enrollment if their insurance drops them.

Wisconsin Association of Health Plans Executive Director and former GOP state Rep. John Nygren echoed Dems’ concerns that more people will seek limited-coverage plans, asking lawmakers to consider whether a 3-year coverage plan fits into the “short-term” category. Aside from consumer choice, “there is also a social impact here,” Nygren said, adding that people could accumulate hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs if they get sick while enrolled in these plans.

Read the bill.

— The Assembly Committee on Insurance also heard testimony on a bipartisan bill that would require insurers to cover telehealth services for those enrolled in plans that cover the same services when provided in person.

The bill would also direct the Department of Health Services to consider telehealth therapy as interactive telehealth eligible for coverage under the Medical Assistance program.

The bill’s author, Sen. André Jacque, R-De Pere, said he has engaged in “very positive conversation with DHS” about the bill, which he called “very solid bipartisan legislation in both chambers.”

Marc Herstand, executive director of the Nation Association of Social Workers, said the legislation’s pay parity amendment would help ease clinical social workers’ concern that insurance companies could reduce telehealth coverage. Herstand added that he would not oppose the bill without the amendment, but would be unsure about offering his continued support.

“We want them to pay telehealth equal to in-person,” Herstand said, referring to insurance companies. “Telemental health is now an integral and critical part of mental health services.”

Lawmakers expressed concerns that the bill would encourage some to impersonate others over the phone to access telehealth services, but Herstand said he has not heard of such issues with telehealth.

Read the bill.

— Dem lawmakers have announced legislation to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes in Wisconsin.

The legislation largely follows a provision in Gov. Tony Evers’ budget. In touting the bill, Sen Melissa Agard, D-Madison, said it would generate more than $165 million in revenue a year. Under the legislation, more than half would be put toward underserved communities, equity grants and sparsity aid.

Under the bill, a Wisconsin resident at least 21 years old, or a qualifying patient, would be allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana. Nonresidents who are at least 21 could possess up to a quarter of an ounce.