State Report: Wisconsin

April 1, 2009

Commonwealth Fund State Performance Ranking (2007): 9

In his january state of the state speech, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle described his success in making health insurance premiums tax deductible. He also praised the BadgerCare Plus program, through which "any child in Wisconsin can get health insurance." The program gained 100,000 new enrollees in 2008, two-thirds of whom were children. Wisconsin ranked second nationally for health insurance coverage, Doyle said.

In addition, he urged private insurers to cover treatments for autism and said he plans to make all public places in the state smoke-free.

PILOT LAUNCHED

As of February, WHIE had 13 hospitals across four delivery networks contributing data to the exchange, and five emergency departments using the exchange in regular patient care. During 2009, it plans to expand the number of participating organizations and the types of data available to participants, including lab results, pharmacy information, and imaging results.

PHYSICIAN SHORTAGE

Wisconsin has a shortage of 374 primary care physicians, primarily in rural areas and some inner-city neighborhoods, according to a new report by the Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce. The shortage, which is expected to increase as more primary care physicians retire and fewer medical school students enter primary care, coincides with an increase in demand for primary care physicians due to an aging population. The number of Wisconsin residents age 65 and older is projected to double by 2030.

To address the problem, the report recommends enrolling students from rural areas; increasing tuition reimbursement programs for physicians who practice in underserved areas; recruiting out-of-state physicians; and increasing the roles of nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

INFANT MORTALITY ADDRESSED

The Wisconsin Partnership Program recently announced a five-year, $10-million initiative designed to reduce infant mortality in the state, which has the highest African-American infant mortality rate in the country, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

One of the goals is to help coordinate existing infant mortality programs in Beloit, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine, the four cities that account for 92% of the deaths, and to increase public awareness. A co-chair of the steering committee forecasts the initiative will last 10 to 15 years.

MHE Sources: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Urban Institute; Kaiser Family Foundation; U.S. Census Bureau; The Commonwealth Fund.