WisBusiness/WisPolitics Health Care Report: June 9

WisBusiness/WisPolitics Health Care Report: June 9

— Fewer Wisconsin hospitals were penalized in fiscal year 2021 for measures of hospital-acquired conditions, according to a recent quality report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

The report details the state’s performance in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program. It aims to cut rates of infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment, as well as other negative outcomes.

According to WHA Chief Quality Officer Nadine Allen, the report’s author, the program encourages organizations to improve these rates by penalizing the worst-performing hospitals through a reduction in Medicare reimbursement. But at the same time, she says it improves transparency by encouraging hospitals to track related metrics.

“What you don’t track or measure can’t be improved,” she said in a recent interview, noting that analyzing these metrics more closely has led to improvements in patient outcomes.

For fiscal year 2021, 13 hospitals in Wisconsin were penalized, compared to 18 hospitals for the prior fiscal year. Since 2015, the number of Wisconsin hospitals in the bottom quartile has ranged from 21 to 11.

Through the CMS program, hospitals are scored for their rates of hospital-acquired conditions such as urinary tract infections related to catheters and surgical site infections. Hospitals in the bottom quartile for these measures are hit with a 1 percent reduction in Medicare fee-for-service payments for discharges during the fiscal year.

Allen noted Wisconsin hospitals have historically been ranked among the best in the country by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

“The focus is never to be satisfied with being excellent,” she said.

Aside from infection rates and patient safety measures, hospitals can also be penalized by CMS for rates of patient readmission, with up to 3 percent reduction in payments through the program. The WHA report shows 17 Wisconsin hospitals are getting no readmission penalties for the fiscal year, representing 27 percent of eligible hospitals; that’s better than the national average.

The report also highlights ways  health care providers responded over the past year to the new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, including local partnerships with employees, vaccination efforts and other efforts.

“We know it’s not the last pandemic or epidemic we’re going to see, so let’s be smarter and more efficient going forward into the future,” Allen said.

See the full report here.


— UW-Madison has been named as a participating member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s new pandemic prevention network. The network includes more than 20 organizations around the world.

This new effort to create an international pandemic prevention institute will rely on research performed by these partner groups, which are being called Regional Accelerators for Genomic Surveillance.

UW-Madison’s AIDS Vaccine Research Laboratory has been conducting genetic sequencing on the COVID-19 virus, analyzing around 5 percent of related infections in Dane County. That’s compared to just 2 percent of positive cases analyzed on the national level.

With the added resources of this broad new effort, scientists with the AVRL plan to hone in on how COVID-19 spreads among school-aged children, according to a release from the university.


— Wisconsin is in the top 15 percent of U.S. states and territories for total population vaccination rate with nearly half of residents having received at least one dose.

That’s according to Dr. John Raymond, CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, who gave a COVID-19 update during a recent Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce webinar.

COVID-19 cases are declining in Wisconsin as only 66 new confirmed cases were logged as of June 7.

The state saw one related death, which came from Milwaukee County, and 170 hospitalizations on June 7. The number of COVID-related hospitalizations decreased from Wisconsin’s 2,277 on Nov. 17, 2020.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected to have full FDA approval in July, Raymond said. Individuals under 12 years old may be eligible for the vaccine by the fall.