Wisconsin Assembly to consider emergency Medicaid waiver

March 31, 2020 10:58 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

March 31, Wisconsin Health News

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Monday that the Legislature will act on a request by the Department of Health Services to waive Medicaid rules in response to COVID-19. 

DHS plans to pursue an emergency 1135 waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It needs legislative approval to do so under a law enacted after Gov. Tony Evers was elected, but before he took office.

Vos said the Assembly hopes to hold a floor session soon and they’re exploring ways to convene it without “adversely impacting” at-risk populations within their membership and support staff. 

He’s also expecting a final analysis from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau on the federal stimulus law approved last week. 

“We know legislative action will need to be taken, including a request for an emergency waiver from CMS to allow for flexibilities to healthcare providers,” Vos said in a statement. 

He added that they’re having daily discussions with the governor’s office and legislative Democratic leaders. 

DHS officials submitted a request for an emergency waiver to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee last week. Spokesman for the committee's leaders said they don't have authority to act on the request.

Evers on Monday called on the Legislature to allow for “greater flexibilities within the Department of Health Services so they can act rapidly and ensure folks are getting the care they need without any unnecessary barriers such as pre-authorization requirements.”

“Lives are on the line here, and we can’t afford being hamstrung by bureaucratic hurdles,” he told reporters.