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  • April 15, 2024 4:58 PM | Anonymous

    Help the American Academy of Ophthalmology through its EyeCare America program make a difference in YOUR community by spreading the word or becoming a volunteer ophthalmologist.

    Learn About EyeCare America
    Since 1985, EyeCare America, through its network of volunteer ophthalmologists, has helped more than 2 million people access a no out-of-pocket cost medical eye exam and eye health resources. The underserved in your neighborhood—especially seniors and those at risk for glaucoma—could benefit from the sight-saving services we provide.

    Access Free Resources
    We offer information you can easily use to help raise awareness about eye health and how those that qualify can obtain a no out-of-pocket cost medical eye exam. Access these materials which include newsletter blurbs, social media posts, flyers/handouts, presentations, TV and radio spots in English and Spanish, and more today! With your assistance in sharing information about EyeCare America, we can reach more adults and help them receive sight-saving eye care.

    Become a Volunteer
    If you are a practicing ophthalmologist member looking for a more hands-on approach to helping, you can volunteer, right from your offices! On average, volunteers see from one to three patients per year.

    To learn more, visit eyecareamerica.org, email eyecareamerica@aao.org, or call 877-887-6327.

    Thank you in advance for helping to protect sight and empower lives in YOUR community.

    Christie Morse, MD
    Chair, EyeCare America Steering Committee

  • February 10, 2024 3:05 PM | Anonymous

    Best Clinical Practices for Patients with IRDs

    Registration Link: bit.ly/3RSWc3H

    The Foundation Fighting Blindness will host a free webinar on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. ET. This one-hour webinar will be presented by Rachel Huckfeldt M.D., assistant professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and a clinician-scientist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and Rachelle Lin O.D., assistant professor at the Southern California College of Optometry, specializing in low vision rehabilitation and genetics.

    Drs. Huckfeldt and Lin will review several topics related to the care and management of IRD patients, including:

    1. Recommended functional and structural tests.
    2. Potential manageable complications.
    3. Genetic testing and why it is a critical element in IRD care.
    4. Clinical trials for emerging therapies.
    5. IRD patient registries, low vision clinics, and additional resources.
    To register, please visit bit.ly/3RSWc3H
  • February 09, 2024 3:08 PM | Anonymous

    Eye on the Cure Podcast, Episode 61: Dr. Jose Sahel

    Dr. Jose Sahel, one of the most honored and accomplished leaders in the retinal disease research space, talks with host Ben Shaberman about his establishment and leadership of renowned ophthalmology clinical research centers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Institut de la Vision in Paris. They also discuss emerging inherited retinal disease therapies from SparingVision, a biotech co-founded by Dr. Sahel.

    To listen, please visit http://tinyurl.com/eocep61

  • October 26, 2023 3:51 PM | Anonymous

    Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Bill Passes Senate; Awaiting Further Consideration in the Assembly

    After a long summer of inactivity on the Advanced Practice Register Nurse (APRN) bill, earlier this month – and somewhat out-of-the-blue – the Senate Health Committee voted to approve the legislation (SB 145). On Oct. 17, the full Senate passed the bill on a 23-9 vote.

    The proposal would create a new pathway to allow registered nurses to be licensed as an APRN and provide them with broad nursing powers, including the ability practice independently without physician collaboration. Unfortunately, the bill as passed by the Senate lacks the common-sense changes the WAO and Wisconsin’s “House of Medicine” deem essential to preserve patient safety and protect the delivery of high-quality care across the state. These include adequate requirements for clinical experience before an APRN can practice independently and physician “Truth-in-Advertising” language to help ensure patients know when they are receiving care from a physician or non-physician provider.

    The bill is now awaiting further consideration in the Assembly. It is expected that it will receive a public hearing by the Assembly Health Committee before the end of the year. The WAO will continue to work with other physician groups to find a reasonable compromise with lawmakers and nursing stakeholders that include the following provisions:

    • Four years of real-world experience working in a physician-led, team-based care environment before an APRN can practice independently.
    • Truth-in-Advertising title protections to help health care consumers better understand when they are receiving care from a physician or a non- physician provider.
    • Language to ensure that a physician specializing in pain medicine collaborates with independent APRN clinics that provide complex pain management patient care.

    If a compromise cannot be reached, the WAO and the greater physician community will urge Gov. Tony Evers to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk. Evers vetoed similar legislation last session.

    Senate Rejects Reappointment of Dr. Sheldon Wasserman to Medical Examining Board

    Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, rejected several of Gov. Tony Evers’ appointments to a handful of state commissions and boards. Among the appointments voted down by the Senate included Dr. Sheldon Wasserman, who Evers reappointed to the Medical Examining Board (MEB). Wasserman, who chaired the MEB and had served on the Board since 2019, was rejected by the Senate on a partisan 22-10 vote. Evers quickly replaced Wasserman on the MEB with Dr. Steven Leuthner, a neonatal pediatrician who teaches at the Medical College of Wisconsin. 

    Legislative Committee Rejects Request for More DSPS Occupational Credential Staff

    On September 26, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee rejected a request from the WI Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) for additional funding for new staff members to assist in processing occupational credential applications. The 10-4 vote to reject the funding fell along party lines.  In its request, DSPS noted they needed additional staff members to maintain or reduce processing time for occupational credentials.  As part of the 2023-2025 budget bill passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature, lawmakers approved 17 new positions at DSPS, as well as $3.5 million for software upgrades, to improve the credentialing process.

    Senate Health Committee Recommends Approval of DHS Secretary Nominee

    Earlier this month, the Senate Health Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, voted 5-1 to recommend to the full Senate the confirmation of Kirsten Johnson as Secretary of the WI Department of Health Services (DHS). Johnson has been serving as interim secretary since her appointment by Gov. Tony Evers in Feb. 2023. Prior to her appointment, Johnson served as the head of the City of Milwaukee Health Department, as well as the Washington-Ozaukee Health Department. Senator Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) was the lone senator on the committee to oppose Johnson’s confirmation, which still needs approval by the full Senate. 

    Wisconsin Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to State’s Legislative Districts

    Earlier this month, on Oct. 6, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a 4-3 decision – split down ideological lines – agreeing to hear a legal challenge to the state’s current legislative maps, which were drawn following the 2020 U.S. Census and after a series of rulings by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Wisconsin voters, claims Wisconsin Assembly and Senate legislative districts were gerrymandered in violation of the state constitution.

    Depending on a final ruling by the liberal-leaning court, new legislative maps could be in place by next year and could shift the balance of power in the Legislature. Republicans have held large majorities in both houses since 2011. The state’s high court will hear oral arguments in the case on November 21, but has not provided a timeline for when it will issue a decision.

    State of Wisconsin ends fiscal year with $7 billion surplus

    Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) announced the state closed the 2023 fiscal year, which ended June 30, with a surplus of slightly more than $7 billion. That is roughly 65% more than last year’s $4.3 billion balance. In addition, the state Budget Stabilization Fund, or “rainy day” fund continues to have a balance of $1.8 billion. CLICK HERE to review the full DOA Annual Fiscal Report.

  • September 26, 2023 8:45 AM | Anonymous

    As was reported in last month’s edition of this publication, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Calendar Year (CY) 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule in July. Under the proposed rule, clinicians would see a 3.36% decrease to the physician conversion factor. The proposed conversion factor for 2024 is $32.75, which is a reduction compared to the 2023 conversion factor of $33.89.

    Prior to the Sept. 11 public comment period deadline, the WAO submitted comments to CMS on the rule, outlining the Academy’s concerns and other thoughts on the proposal. Please CLICK HERE to read the WAO’s comments to CMS on the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule.

    CMS has said it will issue the final rule in November.

  • September 26, 2023 8:44 AM | Anonymous

    Legislation (AB 408 / SB 398) was recently introduced in the state Legislature to create a Wisconsin income tax credit to help offset the costs of employment-related transportation services incurred by a person considered blind under federal tax guidelines.

    The proposed non-refundable tax credit would be equal to 50 percent of the cost of covered transportation services and would be limited to $1,500 per taxable year. Under the bill, eligible transportation services must be provided by mass transit, paratransit, taxicab, or a transportation network company.

    The proposed legislation was introduced earlier this month and is awaiting further consideration by state lawmakers.

  • September 26, 2023 8:43 AM | Anonymous

    On August 8, Governor Tony Evers called a special session of the Legislature, urging lawmakers to consider a $1 billion workforce development package the Governor said was needed to address the state’s workforce shortage crisis.

    Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, convened the session as required by law, but quickly adjourned without acting. They called the special session a “political stunt” that was fiscally irresponsible and did not provide real solutions to Wisconsin’s workforce challenges.

    The Governor’s proposed legislative package included $365 million to support childcare programs; the creation of a paid family and medical leave program that would cost $243 million; $66 million for the UW; $40 million for the state’s technical colleges; and nearly $60 million to help address the shortage of healthcare workers across the state. The funding to address the healthcare worker shortage included:

    ·   $10 million for the state’s nurse educators program, which incentivizes nursing professors to remain in Wisconsin.

    ·   $6 million for the WisCaregiver Careers program, which is intended to increase the number of certified nursing assistants employed at nursing homes.

    ·   $17 million for healthcare opportunity grants, which will go to local workforce development boards to help individuals obtain employment in the healthcare field.

    ·   $936,600 for the state Department of Workforce Development to work on healthcare apprenticeships.

    ·   $22.5 million for healthcare innovation grants, which will help the healthcare industry recruit and retain employees.

    ·   Over $1.2 million for graduate medical training support grants.

  • September 26, 2023 8:43 AM | Anonymous

    On August 31, Governor Tony Evers and the state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) unveiled a new online dashboard that provides high-level data on occupational license processing.  In addition to showing the average number of days to process all new applications, all health applications, and all business applications, users may also look up application review times by profession. 

  • September 26, 2023 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    The Republican-controlled state Assembly recently passed a redistricting reform plan to completely overhaul how legislative district maps are drawn in Wisconsin. Under the proposal, which is based on the model used in Iowa, a nonpartisan committee would draw the legislative maps. The maps drawn by committee would be subject to approval by the state Legislature. 

    Gov. Tony Evers roundly criticized the proposal, saying it was essentially election interference by the GOP and strongly inferred he would veto the measure if it made it to his desk. Assembly Republicans praised the legislation as not only the fairest approach to redistricting for citizens, but also a plan that would avoid costly political and legal battles.

    Recent polling has shown that a large majority of Wisconsin residents would prefer legislative district maps be drawn by a nonpartisan commission rather than elected officials.

    The proposal, which passed the Assembly on a largely partisan vote with one Democrat voting for the measure, is awaiting further action in the Senate.

  • September 26, 2023 8:40 AM | Anonymous

    Earlier this month, the GOP-controlled state Assembly passed a nearly $3 billion state income tax cut proposal that would drop income tax rates from 5.3% to 4.4% for individual filers with incomes between $27,630 and $304,170 and deliver the same tax relief for married couples with incomes between $18,420 and $405,550. The legislation would also exclude the first $150,000 of a couple’s retirement income from state income taxes. The provision would apply to residents over the age of 67.

    Gov. Tony Evers has promised to veto the legislation, saying it would jeopardize priorities such as public schools, child care, and public safety. On the flip side of the debate, Assembly Republicans said the measure, which passed on a partisan vote, will help fight inflation, encourage retires to stay in Wisconsin, and give a large portion of the state’s $4 billion surplus back to taxpayers.

    The bill is currently under further consideration in the Senate.

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Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology

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