New Wisconsin Healthcare Laws to Know in 2022

Here’s a summary of the legislative changes most likely to affect your Wisconsin healthcare practice or business this year.

Wisconsin state capitol building.

To stay compliant in 2022, learn about some of the new laws that may affect your practice. New legislation ranges from new practice protocols for physician assistants to licensing processes for out-of-state practitioners in light of COVID-19.

Major Changes for Psychologists Regarding Scope of Practice, Credentialing, and Continuing Education  

Act 22 addresses four categories: practice, credentialing, continuing education, and the psychology examining board. First, the Act redefines the practice of psychology and psychotherapy in Wisconsin.  Under the ace, psychology means to “observe, evaluate, and interpret … human behavior…” while psychotherapy means “the diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders… .”  

Second, Act 22 revises several licensing status requirements, including:

  • adding an interim licensing status for a person who has completed the educational requirements, 1,500 hours in a supervised doctoral internship, and an examination on state law related to the practice of psychology;
  • removing separate licensure status for a private practice school psychologist; and
  • revising the method of counting the number of days a psychologist from out of state may temporarily practice in Wisconsin.

Act 22 also allows the Psychology Examining Board to make individual exceptions that postpone or waive continuing education requirements in case of extreme hardship. Finally, Act 22 allows the Psychology Examining Board to remove the requirement for the board to give an examination twice per year and allows the board to set passing scores for examinations without a rulemaking process.

New Credentialing and Practice Protocols for Physician Assistants in Wisconsin

All Wisconsin physician assistants should be aware of big changes. Act 23 affects three broad categories: a new credentialing board, licensure, and practice protocols. First, the act moves the credentialing of physician assistants to a Physician Assistant Affiliated Credentialing Board. Previously, the Medical Examining Board credentialed PAs in Wisconsin.

Second, the act adds a continuing education requirement for license renewals and otherwise largely maintains current license standards.

Third, the act revises the nature of the required affiliation with a physician. Rather than requiring a supervising physician, Act 23 allows PAs to work under the overall management and direction of a physician in an employment relationship or in a collaborative agreement with a physician. The Act dictates the requirements of the collaborative agreement. 

Finally, the act specifies that a PA may serve as a patient’s primary care provider or specialty care provider. 

Act 23 opens options for patients around the state looking for alternative healthcare providers. We recommend that any physician assistants looking to start their own practice contact a health care attorney to create sufficient collaborative agreements and address other legal needs while navigating this new landscape.

Immunity From Liability for Reporting Child Abuse

Under the federal Child Abuse and Protection Act (CAPTA), each state must submit a state plan that meets the directives of CAPTA in order to receive federal grants in support of prevention. Act 41 is Wisconsin’s way of complying with CAPTA’s new standards.

Under this Act, any person or institution doing any of the following in good faith in connection with a report of child abuse or neglect has immunity from any liability that results by reason of the action:

  • Participating in the making of a report;
  • Conducting an investigation;
  • Ordering or taking photographs;
  • Ordering, performing, or assisting with medical examinations of a child or an expected mother;
  • Otherwise providing information, assistance, or consultation in connection with a report, investigation, or legal intervention.

The legislature is not only making child abuse prevention a priority in Wisconsin, but they are also incentivizing actions that aid professionals in the reporting and investigative process. Remember, healthcare providers are mandatory reporters under state law. Thus, the legislature has indicated that you should not work in fear of when instances or suspected instances of child abuse arise.

The bottom line is to trust your instincts and move forward with reporting or further inquiring into suspected cases of child abuse. Similar to our recommendations surrounding Act 76, consider your practice’s policies surrounding child abuse and how to streamline your reporting, investigation, and examination process.

Crimes and Procedures Involving Wisconsin Elders

Wisconsin Act 76 changed several aspects of criminal law in Wisconsin as applied to elders — meaning people 60 years or older. Most notably, the Act creates a new crime prohibiting the physical abuse of an elder. Additionally, any act of sexual misconduct that was a second-degree sexual assault is now a first-degree sexual assault if the victim is 60 years of age or older.

This law applies regardless of whether the defendant had actual knowledge of the victim’s age. Mistaking the victim’s age is not a defense. Act 76 also creates a procedure for a court to freeze or seize assets from a defendant who has been charged with a financial exploitation crime when the victim is age 60 or older. 

Under Wisconsin law, health care providers are mandatory reporters for both children and elders. Act 76 indicates a push by the legislature to put forth greater protections for the elderly population with more substantial penalties. In light of this, you may wish to consider conducting abuse screenings as part of your client intake process. For instance, intake forms could include explanations of abuse in Wisconsin and prompt a discussion about their rights. You may also want to include contact information for the patient to reach the county human services board tasked with enforcing protective measures.

Repeal of Consulting Physician Requirement for Athletic Trainers in Wisconsin

Act 71 repeals the requirement that an athletic trainer have a consulting physician.

 Previously, an athletic training needed a consulting physician to approve the trainer’s evaluation and treatment. Additionally, the physician could require the trainer to refer a patient to another provider if the consulting physician determined that the patient has a medical condition beyond the scope of practice of the athletic trainer.

 Now, all that is required is that the trainer has a current copy of the protocol required under Wisconsin law at the place of employment of the athletic trainer on a protocol form prescribed by the credentialing board.

Take note: Act 71 seems to be an outlier in the national landscape of athletic training. Most states have strict physician oversight requirements for athletic trainers. This is a significant step forward for athletic training autonomy and raised the question of whether other professions, such as physical or occupational therapy, will also see a change in oversight.

Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) Credentialing Procedures

Act 118 provides more options for various health-related oversight boards when it comes to credentialing Wisconsin providers. This law allows various credentialing boards to delegate their credentialing authority to the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) entirely. If they choose to do so, DSPS will make determinations regarding whether an applicant satisfies certain credentialing requirements. Then, once DSPS reviews a credentialing application in full, DSPS must either forward the application back to the corresponding board with a final recommendation or directly approve or deny the application. 

While Act 118 may not affect your day-to-day practice, it is vital to understand how your profession’s credential process may change soon and what this might mean for soon-to-be licensed or newly licensed colleagues.  

Temporary Credential for Health Care Providers

Act 10 allows the Department of Safety and Professional Services to grant a temporary state credential to a health care provider who is credentialed in another state or territory. This temporary credential provides preliminary credentialing pending an application for a permanent credential or temporary credentialing for practice that is limited to the declared COVID-19 national emergency.

Prohibiting Discrimination in Organ Transplantation

Wisconsin Act 113 prohibits hospitals or transplant centers from discriminating against a disabled person in the receipt of an organ transplant. More specifically, hospitals and transplant centers cannot consider an individual ineligible to receive an anatomical gift or deny someone medical services related to organ transplantation on the sole basis of a person’s disability. Additionally, refusing to refer a disabled person to a transplant hospital or refusing to put them on an organ transplant waiting list is against the law.

Providers should be aware of this new non-discrimination mandate and prepare to counsel patients who are subject to discrimination. Practices that routinely treat patients with conditions that make them more likely to be recipients of organ transplants should also implement internal non-discrimination policies and consider making patient-facing educational materials available.

Reimbursement of Mobility Devices in Wisconsin Nursing Homes

Act 88 requires Wisconsin’s Medical Assistance program to cover the costs of complex rehabilitation technology for a resident in a nursing home. Wisconsin’s Medical Assistance program supports the costs of acute and long-term care services for certain groups of individuals – such as the elderly, blind, and disabled. Complex rehabilitation technology generally includes manual and power wheelchairs, adaptive seating systems, alternative positioning systems, and other seating and standing devices that are individually designed to meet specific medical needs. To be covered by Medical Assistance, the device must contribute to the resident’s independent completion of activities, support the occupational, vocational, or psychosocial activities, or provide the resident with the independent ability to move about the facility or attain or retain self-care.

The language of Act 88 is broad, meaning Medical Assistance may cover a wide range of technology that could improve the lives of those in nursing homes around the state. Nursing home facilities should take advantage of the potential opportunities that Act 88 creates for residents. 

Healthcare providers regularly working with qualifying patients should be aware of the devices and technology that qualify for these reimbursement opportunities and prescribe accordingly. Additionally, nursing home staff members, even those who do not prescribe medication or materials, should be aware of the devices that fall under Act 88 to make recommendations based on their industry knowledge. 

Wisconsin Settles Opiate Litigation With Johnson & Johnson

The state settled litigation with Johnson & Johnson regarding its role in the opioid epidemic. Act 57 governs that settlement, and ultimately Wisconsin will receive around $420 million over the next two decades from the pharmaceutical giant.  

Under Act 57, if certain conditions are met, the Attorney General must cooperate with local governments that are parties to the opiate litigation and enter joint settlement agreements regarding opioids with any person that has engaged in the manufacture, marketing, promotion, distribution, or dispensing of an opioid product. The act also requires that the state and local governments spend their settlement proceeds according to certain requirements.

Temporary Practice by Nurses at Camps 

If you are a nurse looking to work in Wisconsin but lack a Wisconsin license, summer camps might be a route for you! 

Act 46 allows a registered nurse who is credentialed in another state or U.S. territory to practice at an educational or recreational camp for up to 90 days. It also allows for nurses credentialed and in good standing in a Canadian province or territory to work at Wisconsin camps.

Importantly, for a nurse to qualify under this law, the credentialing standards from the nurse’s home jurisdiction must be substantially equivalent to Wisconsin licensure for a registered nurse and cannot be under investigation by a licensing enforcement authority.

Summer camps are a large revenue and job source in Wisconsin. With the pandemic causing nursing shortages throughout the state, summer camps needed more flexibility for hiring eligible nurses. Act 46 helped fill that need.

Certified Public Accountant Education Requirements

Certified Public Accountants are financial advisors and can prove helpful on a wide variety of topics. With that said, CPAs and attorneys, particularly healthcare attorneys, have distinct expertise, skills sets, and education requirements. While a CPA may prove helpful when setting up your business, they may not be as well-versed in certain compliance requirements that a healthcare attorney will know. We strongly encourage healthcare practices to work with a healthcare attorney who likely has a broader understanding of the healthcare landscape in their state.

Act 12 changes the education requirements for CPAs in Wisconsin. The law removes the requirement that all of a certified public accountant’s college credits may be fulfilled only at an institution of higher education that grants bachelor’s degrees. It also maintains the requirement that all of a CPA’s credits must be completed at an accredited institution of higher education. In essence, CPAs can now gain some credits at two-year colleges in Wisconsin.

Legislative changes often create questions about new responsibilities for your business or practice. While we hope this post helped to introduce you to these changes, descriptions of these new requirements are only summaries, and there may be other parts of these bills relevant to you. If you have questions about what these changes mean for you, please reach out to us so that we can help you navigate through your compliance requirements in the coming year.

This blog is made for educational purposes and is not intended to be specific legal advice to any particular person. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between our firm and the reader. It should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

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