Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

La Crosse – Governor Scott Walker met with healthcare professionals today at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse. While there, he also highlighted several provisions included in his biennial budget proposal that work to develop Wisconsin’s healthcare workforce and strengthen the healthcare industry.

“First and foremost, we want the people of Wisconsin to be safe and healthy,” Governor Walker said. “To address the current shortage of professionals with the skills and training necessary to provide much-needed care and services to our state’s most vulnerable, our budget proposal invests in developing our healthcare workforce. Bolstering our healthcare workforce not only ensures the citizens of Wisconsin are receiving the services and care they need, it also strengthens the healthcare industry, which guarantees the sector continues to have a significant impact on our state’s economy.”

Governor Walker’s 2017-2019 Biennial Budget includes the following provisions to support Wisconsin’s healthcare industry and professionals:

  • Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program – Governor Walker’s budget proposal also provides $200,000 in funding for the Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program (WRPRAP), increasing funding for the program to $850,000. Created by 2009 Act 190, WRPRAP provides financial support to rural hospitals, residency programs, and health systems to advance the development of rural rotations and rural training tracks in the state and expand access to physicians and other medical workers in rural Wisconsin. The program is administered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Family Medicine.
  • Youth Nursing Training Increase – The budget proposal provides $1.5 million for Nursing Training programs to help meet the growing workforce needs of the health care industry. This funding supports grants to community-based organizations for public-private partnerships to create and implement a nursing training program for middle and high school students.
  • Personal Care Rate Increase – The budget proposal supports Personal Care program direct care workforce by providing a two percent increase of $5,034,300 in fiscal year 2017-18 and a two percent increase of $9,936,300 in fiscal year 2018-19 to address increase program participant acuity.
    • Wisconsin is currently experiencing a crisis-level shortage of direct care workers, leaving families without options and people with disabilities and older adults without much-needed care. Direct care workers assist people in getting out of bed, using the restroom, dressing, preparing meals, traveling to and from work or school, and other necessary everyday activities.
    • More than 85 percent of Wisconsinites who rely on direct care workers for some or all of their support needs say they cannot find enough workers. As a result, people with disabilities and older adults are going without needed assistance, thus putting them in danger of serious illness, harm, and loss of independence.
    • Provider agencies, struggling to keep their doors open, are reporting turnover rates as high as 65 percent because they cannot increase worker wages.
  • Nursing Home Rate Increase – Governor Walker’s budget proposal provides a two percent increase in fiscal year 2017-18 of $18,354,900 and a two percent increase in fiscal year 2018-19 of $33,118,900 to support Wisconsin’s nursing home direct care workforce and increased resident acuity in nursing homes and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The funding also enhances behavioral and cognitive impairment incentives.

Gundersen Health System is a comprehensive health network of wholly owned services and regional partners. In partnership with regional partners and clinics, eye clinics, nursing homes, and more, Gundersen Health System provides quality care to the people of La Crosse and Wisconsin. Specialists are able to consult with their colleagues system-wide, share medical records and tests, and together provide a level of care that distinguishes them as among the top five percent of health care organizations in the nation.

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