• May 15, 2023 12:39 PM | Becca Liebers

    Given the importance of quality eyesight, WAO partners with the American Academy of Ophthalmology on the EyeSmart campaign to share monthly eye health observances. Each month, we will focus our eye health awareness and education efforts on different topics.

    Click here to read the May release.

  • May 15, 2023 12:38 PM | Becca Liebers

    Poster abstracts are now being accepted for the WAO Fall Symposium (September 29-30, 2023 at the Trade Hotel in Milwaukee, WI). Submissions will be accepted until July 31, 2023. You will be notified in early August via email if your poster is accepted. All research is eligible for consideration, including case reports. Wisconsin ophthalmology residents are most strongly encouraged to participate, but others are also welcome to submit abstracts. For questions regarding poster submission, please contact WAO@badgerbay.co.

    Submit Here
  • April 26, 2023 9:36 AM | Becca Liebers

    Given the importance of quality eyesight, WAO partners with the American Academy of Ophthalmology on the EyeSmart campaign to share monthly eye health observances. Each month, we will focus our eye health awareness and education efforts on different topics.

    Click here to read the April release.

  • April 25, 2023 7:57 AM | Becca Liebers

    Gov. Tony Evers recently highlighted initiatives in his 2023-25 biennial budget targeted at bolstering the healthcare workforce and addressing shortages of nurses, certified nursing assistants (CNA), and other healthcare professionals that are impacting Wisconsinites’ access to healthcare. The governor highlighted these initiatives during his visit to the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Eau Claire campus to host a roundtable discussion with nursing students about the workforce challenges facing the industry and the healthcare system as a whole.

    Gov. Evers’s budget recommends providing UW-Eau Claire with up to $9.4 million through the Workforce Innovation Grant Program, which the governor is proposing to continue in his 2023-25 biennial budget, to support their efforts to alleviate workforce shortages in key fields like healthcare. In partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin, this funding aims to help the university create innovative curriculum and clinical experiences to graduate more nurses, including adding six new degree programs in growing healthcare fields.

    Gov. Evers included the following proposals in his budget bill to help bolster Wisconsin’s healthcare workforce:

    • A $100 million investment in the Workforce Innovation Grant Program to grow the state’s healthcare workforce. The grant program, previously funded with federal COVID relief dollars, provides grants to regional organizations to design and implement innovative plans that help solve the state’s workforce challenges.
    • $22.5 million over the biennium to establish a separate, ongoing Innovation grant program for healthcare employers to engage in improved recruitment and retention of long-term care providers.
    • $10 million over the biennium for the Wisconsin nurse educators program, which provides incentives for nursing professors to stay in Wisconsin to teach the next generation of nurses.
    • $8 million for the WisCaregiver Careers program, which aims to address the shortage of CNAs in the state by supporting the recruitment, training, and retention of individuals to care for nursing home residents across Wisconsin.
    • $5 million in supplemental funding for the Worker Advancement Initiative to provide grants to local workforce development boards to connect individuals to healthcare-related opportunities and to support efforts by technical colleges and nursing schools to reduce barriers to graduation and assist students in pursuing health-related careers.
    • $7 million over the biennium for a new psychiatry residency program through the Medical College of Wisconsin.
    • $1.5 million for the Qualified Treatment Trainee grant program, which facilitates the licensure and certification of individuals obtaining or already possessing a graduate degree in psychology, counseling, marriage and family therapy, social work, nursing, or a closely related field.

    Although the Legislature plans to rewrite the governor’s budget bill from the ground up over the next few months, they are expected to keep some of the proposals recommended by Evers. It is also important to point out that lawmakers understand the need to address the state’ healthcare workforce shortage.

  • April 25, 2023 7:56 AM | Becca Liebers

    As Wisconsin lawmakers grapple with the state’s workforce shortage crisis in the health care sector – and across all industries – they are focusing much of their attention on proposals to overhaul parts of the state’s occupational licensing process. Their effort stems from the lengthy licensing delays at the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) – the state agency responsible for credentialing health care and other professionals – that is unfortunately worsening the growing labor crunch.

    One occupational licensing bill (Assembly Bill 144) lawmakers are working on would require the state to grant preliminary occupational credentials to health care professionals. More specifically, the legislation, which has strong support from the health care community, requires DSPS to grant a preliminary credential to an individual who has met all the requirements for a permanent credential, including having completed all education, training, and supervised experience requirements.

    An applicant for a preliminary license must also: 1.) Attest that they do not have a disqualifying arrest or conviction record; 2.) Verify that the position they have been hired for is within the scope of their practice; and 3.) Confirm that they have applied for a permanent credential. Finally, the health care employer that hired the applicant must verify that the individual has – to the best of the health care employer's knowledge – completed the required education, training, and supervised experience necessary for a permanent credential. 

    In addition to AB 144, please find below an overview of several other occupational licensing bills being considered by the Legislature:

    • Assembly Bill 135 / Senate Bill 135
      This legislative proposal would create a process for individuals who hold a license, certification, registration, or permit that was granted by another state to apply for and receive a reciprocal credential in Wisconsin.
    • Assembly Bill 143 / Senate Bill 160
      This bill would prohibit the state from requiring an applicant for one of the following health credentials to pass a statutes and rules examination as a condition of licensure or certification: 1.) Advanced practice nurse prescribers; 2.) Substance abuse counselors and clinical substance abuse counselors; 3.) Respiratory care practitioners; 4.) Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants; 5.) Pharmacists; and 6.) Professional counselors. The bill allows the state to require an applicant to affirm that they have read and understand the statutes and rules that apply to their professional practice.
    • Assembly Bill 204 / Senate Bill 193
      Under current law, a two-year renewal period applies to numerous health credentials administered by the WI Department of Safety and Professional Services. This bill revises each two-year renewal period in health professions to four-year renewal periods. Where required by current law, the bill also doubles the corresponding credential's continuing education requirement.
  • April 25, 2023 7:52 AM | Becca Liebers

    Although the APRN bill (SB 145 / AB 154) did not include truth-in-advertising language sought after by the Wisconsin physician community,  Sen. Rachel Cabral-Guevara – a sponsor of the APRN bill and Chair of the Senate Health Committee – has introduced a separate physician title protection bill (SB 143).

    While the WAO, the Medical Society, and most other physician groups support SB 143, it is concerning that the language was not included as part of the APRP bill. The fear is that the Legislature could pass the APRN bill first and ultimately fail to approve SB 143. However, Sen. Cabral-Guevara has said she would hold a public hearing on the Truth-In-Advertising and the APRN bill at the same time.

    Please find below an analysis of the Truth-in-Advertising legislation:

    • Under current Wisconsin law, no individual can use or assume the title “doctor of medicine" or append to the person's name the letters “M.D." unless one of the following applies:
      • The individual possesses the degree of doctor of medicine; or
      • The individual is licensed as a physician in Wisconsin to practice medicine and surgery because they hold a medical degree from a medical school recognized by the World Health Organization.

    In addition, only an individual holding the degree of doctor of osteopathy may use or assume the title “doctor of osteopathy" or append to the person's name the letters “D.O.".

    • Senate Bill 143 would make the following change to current law:
      • No person, except a licensed physician, may use or assume the following words, letters, or terms in the person's title, advertising, or description of services:
    • physician
    • surgeon
    • osteopathic physician
    • osteopathic surgeon
    • medical doctor
    • anesthesiologist
    • cardiologist
    • dermatologist
    • endocrinologist
    • gastroenterologist
    • gynecologist
    • hematologist
    • laryngologist
    • nephrologist
    • neurologist
    • obstetrician
    • oncologist
    • ophthalmologist
    • orthopedic surgeon
    • orthopedist
    • osteopath
    • otologist
    • otolaryngologist
    • otorhinolaryngologist
    • pathologist
    • pediatrician
    • primary care physician
    • proctologist
    • psychiatrist
    • radiologist
    • rheumatologist
    • rhinologist
    • urologist
    • any other words, letters, or abbreviations, alone or in combination with other titles or words, that represent that the person is a physician.

  • April 25, 2023 7:50 AM | Becca Liebers

    As was reported in the March edition of the WAO Advocacy Newsletter, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) legislation (SB 145 / AB 154) has been introduced that would authorize APRNs to prescribe medication and generally practice an expanded scope of care without direct physician supervision.

    A public hearing bill on the bill is expected sometime in May, and the WAO along with the broader Wisconsin “House of Medicine” remain steadfast in their opposition to the bill. Unfortunately, the proposal largely ignores months of negotiations between stakeholders to find a workable agreement and does not include any of the "compromise" language Gov. Evers proposed in his 2023-25 Biennial Budget bill to ensure patient safety protections.

    The physician community hopes to find a workable compromise on the bill that includes at the very least the following provisions:

    • Truth-in-advertising (i.e., physician title protection) provisions that would prevent the use of specific words and terms in titles, advertising, and descriptions of services by medical professionals who are not physicians;
    • An appropriate level of education and clinical experience required of APRNs prior to independent practice; and
    • Requiring proper physician oversight of nurses who are providing pain management services.

    CLICK HERE to review a “side-by-side” analysis of the bill that has now been introduced by lawmakers compared the APRN language Gov. Evers included in his state budget proposal. 

  • March 23, 2023 10:32 AM | Becca Liebers

    Consistent and focused advocacy is critical to the long-term viability of ophthalmology and the delivery of quality medical eye care in Wisconsin. And the WAO is an active force in the State Capitol working on health care issues of importance to WAO members that impact the practice ophthalmology. Our comprehensive advocacy program aims to:

    1. Strengthen the image of the practice of ophthalmology and educate policymakers on the importance of medical eye care; and
    2. Provide public policy leadership to enhance the practice of ophthalmology and ensure high standards for medical eye care are maintained in Wisconsin.

    Of course, our most effective advocacy efforts actively engage WAO members in their strategy and execution – aiming to capitalize on the expertise of our physician members.

    Member participation in WAO’s advocacy programs is increasingly important, as we are facing two highly concerning policy challenges in the 2023-24 legislative session: 1.) The reintroduction of the APRN bill that would authorize broad independent nursing practices in Wisconsin; and 2.) Efforts by optometrists to expand their permissible scope of services to include laser surgeries.

    Thankfully, WAO is well-positioned to act on these issues. In addition to our direct lobbying efforts thorough our professional lobbying firm (HZW), we have several grassroots advocacy programs in place to influence public policy at the state level. If are not already involved, WAO encourages you to participate in the following two key programs to strengthen our influence in the Wisconsin Legislature and ultimately help us meet our legislative/regulatory goals:

    Participate in the WAO Capitol Connection Program

    In WAO’s ongoing effort to raise the profile of ophthalmology and our organization in the State Capitol, we have established our Capitol Connection program to encourage WAO members to invite their local legislators to visit their clinics and facilities.

    The program is designed to help WAO members build and strengthen working relationships with legislators and offers a unique face-to-face opportunity to educate them about the importance of ophthalmology and medical eye care. Through the Capitol Connection program, lawmakers can learn firsthand what is important to the ophthalmology community. In many cases, just a single meeting or contact can have a significant impact on a legislator's view or position on a legislative issue.

    With potential scope of practice legislative battles on the horizon, it’s more important than ever for WAO members to connect with their state lawmakers to discuss the critical role of ophthalmology, as well as the level of education, training, and knowledge required of ophthalmologists.

    To date, we have held multiple successful legislative tours and have several more being planned for the near future. Hosting a legislator at your site is easy, enjoyable, and can make a significant advocacy impact, so we would encourage all WAO members to participate in this highly effective advocacy program.

    If you would like to host a legislative tour at your site, please contact the WAO office at wao@badgerbay.co. We will work with you and your legislators to coordinate the meetings and will provide participating members with full support, including legislator bios, advocacy tips, issue briefings, and supporting documents. 

    Contribute to the WAO Political Action Committee

    The Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology is committed to offering a wide collection of member services and programing. That includes a comprehensive government affairs program that provides direct lobbying services and grassroots advocacy strategies to increase WAO’s presence in the State Capitol and help shape policy decisions that preserve and enhance the practice of ophthalmology in Wisconsin.

    One of the most effective advocacy tools the WAO has as its disposal is the Ophthalmologists for Better Government Political Action Committee (PAC). The PAC allows WAO to collect contributions from members into a single account to support candidates for state legislative office who understand and support issues important to ophthalmologists, the practice of ophthalmology, and Wisconsin’s House of Medicine.

    Contributing to our PAC is more important than ever, as optometrists have been successful in expanding their permissible scope of services in several other states – and the debate is heating up in other parts of the country. Wisconsin could very likely be next…

    The best way we can win these legislative battles is to significantly enhance our legislative advocacy outreach, and having a robust, well-funded PAC is critical to our efforts. With strong member participation in the Ophthalmologists for Better Government PAC, we will be well positioned to preserve the Ophthalmology scope of practice in Wisconsin.

    As mentioned above, the WAO PAC is funded through contributions from ophthalmologists across the state and is only effective as a political tool if members participate in the program. With that in mind, please take a few moments and contribute online TODAY to the Ophthalmologists for Better Government PAC. Every dollar helps, as the risk of non-involvement in the political process is getting too high to ignore.

  • March 23, 2023 10:29 AM | Becca Liebers

    To ensure the voice of citizens is heard across state government, it is critical for Wisconsin residents to understand our electoral process, and even more important for them to cast their vote on election day. And a big election is right around the corner… Wisconsin’s 2023 Spring Election will take place on Tuesday, April 4, and voters will head to the polls to cast their ballots in the WI Supreme Court Race, which could decide the ideological direction of the court for years to come.

    In the Feb. 21 Spring primary, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly captured the most votes in the four-way race and will face-off in the April 4 general election. Protasiewicz took 46% of total votes cast, with Kelly coming in a distant second, capturing 24% of the votes. Again, the winner of the general election will decide the ideological direction of the 7-seat high court, which is currently controlled 4-3 by conservative-leaning justices.

    In addition, for those of you who live in the 8th Senate District (in southeastern Wisconsin), there is a special election to replace Sen. Alberta Darling (R) who retired from the Wi Senate late last year.  Republican State Representative Dan Knodl is running against Democrat environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin.

    For more information about the April 4 Spring Election, including your polling place and which candidates and referendum questions will be on your ballot, simply CLICK HERE. 

  • March 23, 2023 10:29 AM | Becca Liebers

    Earlier this month, longtime Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette announced his retirement. La Follette, who was recently reelected to another four-year term in Nov. 2022, was first elected to the office in 1974 and has held the position for 44 years. Gov. Tony Evers has appointed Former Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski to replace La Follette and serve out the remainder of his term.

Contact Us

Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology

563 Carter Court, Suite B
Kimberly, WI 54136
Ph: 920-560-5645 • WAO@badgerbay.co

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