MADISON, Wis. — A new report has called on Wisconsin lawmakers to address the health care worker shortage while also expanding consumer choice and reducing costs for patients.
The conservative Institute for Reforming Government (IRG) is focused on finding ways to remove so-called ‘red tape,’ including in health care. The organization believes many of the past solutions to rising costs have revolved around spending and too much government intervention.
When it comes to more choice and competition, IRG’s Director of State Budget and Government Reform, Alex Ignatowski, said money cannot be the answer to every issue.
“The solutions that have been offered have been the same. 'We need to expand Medicaid, we need to put more public funding into the health care system,' but that’s what we've been doing for the last six decades, and that hasn’t worked,” Ignatowski explained.
According to IRG’s report, Wisconsin could face a shortage of more than 2,000 physicians by the year 2035.
The analysis recommended boosting the medical school acceptance rate and easing licensing requirements for out-of-state doctors to help. However, allowing nurse practitioners to do more was also suggested.
“What we would say is that they should be able to practice to the full extent of their abilities, allow for regular Wisconsin families to go and see a nurse practitioner for their average health care needs,” Ignatowski said. “It’s a lower cost than going and seeing a physician.”
The report also called for more flexible insurance plans and eliminating coverage restrictions to help consumers save money. Site neutrality payments from Medicaid, as recommended, could also cut costs by making sure the price of a procedure is the same regardless of the setting of where it was done.
“We need new solutions. We need a new way to look at health care, and the time is now, and the state can do it,” Ignatowski said. “Certainly, folks, when they think about health care, they think about the federal level, but your state has a lot of influence about what happens in your health care system.”
As far as getting the Legislature to take action on some of IRG’s proposals, Ignatowski said he is optimistic something can be done about the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, which passed last session, but was vetoed by the governor.