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Governor Evers Suspends Rules to Ensure Patient Care, Coverage Continues During COVID-19 Pandemic

Governor Tony Evers and Secretary-designee Andrea Palm have issued another emergency order suspending some administrative rules for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Department of Safety and Professional Services. This allows health care and emergency services workers to maximize the time and resources they can dedicate to patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During these challenging times, it is imperative that we preserve medical, mental health, and behavioral health services,” said Governor Tony Evers. “This order reduces regulatory burdens while allowing us to maintain essential Medicaid services and ensure the health and safety of Wisconsinites.”

Emergency Order #35 allows DHS to make sure that no Medicaid member loses eligibility for coverage during the COVID-19 emergency, a requirement for receiving additional federal funding under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Those dollars let Wisconsin address increased enrollment and higher usage of Medicaid services as a result of the pandemic and its impact on the economy. The order allows nurses to bill Medicaid for overtime. And, it suspends the prior authorization requirement for some drugs, as well as limits on the number of refills and days-supply that can be provided. It also waives payments from parents for the Birth to 3 Program that provides early intervention services for children with developmental delays and disabilities.

The order allows for telehealth and other electronic communications within mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs, and suspends the requirement that emergency mental health services, community support programs, and community substance abuse services must happen in a face-to-face setting.

“While they may be best practices under regular circumstances, some of our programs include requirements that could increase the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 through face-to-face contact,” said Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “During this pandemic, we are continually reevaluating and improving state programs to keep Wisconsinites safe and healthy.”

Emergency Order #35 also allows for electronic supervision of occupational therapists, when close supervision is required.