WED AM News: Study shows impact of digital medicine platform; GOP JFC nixes Evers’ CAFO fee hike

— New research from Cleveland Clinic and Propellor Health finds the Madison company’s digital medicine platform reduced hospital visits for patients with respiratory diseases.

In a study published last month in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, researchers explored the use of electronic inhaler monitoring in combination with a disease management program. They worked with patients who had COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Researchers Amy Attaway, Umur Hatipoglu, Richard Rice and Khaled Alshabani assembled 39 patients with COPD who had visited the hospital or emergency room at least once that year.

The patients were given rescue inhalers fitted with electronic monitoring devices. They were monitored between October 2016 and May 2017 by a team of scientists using Propellor’s platform.

To enable remote tracking, small sensors were affixed to patients’ COPD inhaler medication. Those sensors send information to the patient’s smartphone, which acts as a “data hub.” From there, notifications were sent to doctors when controller inhalers were not used for four days straight, or when rescue inhaler use increased. That helps guide disease management.

Over the study period, researchers found “a significant reduction” in COPD-related health care utilization, compared to the year before enrollment. Patients in the study had an average of 2.2 trips to the hospital, compared to an average of 3.4 trips in the previous year.  

Cleveland Clinic also found a reduction in health care utilization from all causes, but that was not statistically significant. Still, researchers said the trend in their data suggests a larger sample size may have demonstrated statistical significance.

See more:

— The Joint Finance Committee has voted to nix fee hikes Gov. Tony Evers proposed for those who operate large animal farms, pare back the additional positions he proposed to oversee them and funded the whole thing with a different approach.

The GOP plan, approved 12-4 along party lines, also included $8 million for the UW System’s Dairy Innovation Hub. Committee member Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, and Rep. Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, this spring introduced a standalone bill to create the hub.

But the committee is holding onto the money through its supplemental appropriation until the UW comes back with a plan on how to spend it. When taking up the system budget, the committee also held back $45 million of the UW appropriation until the university comes back with a plan to spend it.

That touched off a tiff among committee members over the amount of money the JFC has directed to its supplemental appropriation.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the motion pushed to $109 million the amount the committee has directed to its reserve. That’s the highest level since 1999 and is significantly more than the $37 million the committee held back in the 2017-19 session.

According to LFB, the committee put $58 million into its supplemental appropriation for the 2015-17 budget and $99 million in 2011-13.

The committee is also holding onto $100,000 Evers had proposed for a farmer mental health program until DATCP releases a plan for it.

See more at

— The Joint Finance Committee has approved a nearly $1.9 billion capital budget, paring back nearly $600 million that Gov. Tony Evers originally wanted to spend on building projects.

More than $1 billion of the GOP capital budget, which was approved 12-4 along party lines, would go to projects in the UW System. That’s slightly less than what Evers originally proposed.

Some of the projects Evers proposed that the committee left off its final document include $150 million in additional money to fund new juvenile corrections facilities, $98.5 million for the state to build a new office building in Milwaukee, and $83 million for a science center on the UW-La Crosse campus.

UW System President Ray Cross praised the committee’s “very strong investment” in the system’s infrastructure.

“This will help us modernize laboratories and classrooms, repair aging and unsafe facilities, and replace obsolete structures,” Cross said in a statement. “This long-term investment will help attract and retain more students and faculty.”

See more at

— The DNR’s decision to approve Foxconn’s plan to withdraw 7 million gallons water per day from Lake Michigan has been approved by an administrative law judge.

Brian Hayes, administrator of the state Division of Hearings and Appeals in the Department of Administration, approved the water diversion Friday.  

A report from the Milwaukee Business Journal shows Foxconn is considering moving production of Apple products out of China and potentially into Wisconsin, due to tariff conflicts between the United States and China. Citing Foxconn officials speaking on a recent conference call, the report shows the company plans to expand its production portfolio in Wisconsin.

See Hayes’ decision:

See more in Foxconn Reports below.

— May home sales in the Milwaukee area were up 0.7 percent compared to the previous May, a release from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors shows.

According to the release, 2,136 homes were sold in the four-county Milwaukee area last month, compared to 2,121 homes in May 2018.

The increase was driven by Waukesha and Washington counties, which had 8.7 percent and 5.9 percent growth, respectively. Milwaukee County had 3.2 percent fewer sales, while Ozaukee County had 2.9 percent fewer sales.

The association says the supply side of the region’s home market is “not currently operating in an economical manner.”

It’s noted that development resources have largely been directed to apartment development, “tying up labor and materials that could be used to alleviate the demand for single-family and condominium units in the region.”

See the release:

— AG Josh Kaul has announced he has joined the multi-state lawsuit attempting to stop the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

The lawsuit, which aims to preserve competition between mobile wireless networks, alleges that the “megamerger” is anticompetitive and will raise prices for consumers across the U.S.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, the telecom giants have said the merger would allow for faster data speeds and increased coverage. However, an investigation done by a coalition of state attorneys general found that many of these promises could only be delivered on years into the future and could significantly hurt consumers in the short-term.

“Maintaining strong competition helps keep prices low,” Kaul said in a release. “If this proposed merger happens, many Wisconsinites will see increased prices for their cell-phone plans.”

As two members of the so-called “Big Four” mobile wireless networks, T-Mobile and Sprint are surpassed in size only by Verizon Wireless and AT&T. With more than 79 million and 54 million subscribers respectively, T-Mobile and Sprint are the lower-cost providers of the four. The lawsuit asserts that merging the two more affordable carriers could lead to many low-income families losing their means of communication.

The complaint filed by the multi-state coalition also says the merger could result in a loss of retail jobs at independent cell phone dealers. It also references the previous “race to LTE,” and says reduced competition could slow the continued development of nationwide 5G network technology, an innovation that has been rising among wireless providers.

Wisconsin is joined in the lawsuit by the District of Columbia and eight other states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New York and Virginia.

See the release:

— Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan Jr. is opposing a plan to build a mental health facility in West Allis, instead calling for it to be built at the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa.  

“A County Grounds location would be closer to those in most need, it would not be in a residential neighborhood, and it would avoid converting land currently zoned for industrial use,” Weishan said in a statement.

His comments related to a 120-bed behavioral health hospital proposed by Universal Health Services in West Allis.

“West Allis’ East Side has a bright future with new, exciting development and this proposal for a mental health facility is out of character with the area,” Weishan said.

He also said locating the facility at the County Ground would place patients closer to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, “and therefore closer to complementary resources.”

See the release:

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, is again urging the Trump administration not to close a Northwoods jobs center that has served disadvantaged youth since 1964.

The Trump administration has decided to close nine of the 25 Civilian Conservation Centers within the U.S. Forest Service. That includes the Blackwell Job Corps Center near Laona.

Baldwin has also introduced legislation that would prevent the closures.

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, has also urged the administration not to close the center, which employs 54 people.

Read the letter:

— DATCP Secretary-Designee Bradley Pfaff will join a panel of stakeholders next week for a discussion on U.S.-China trade relations, and their impact on agriculture in the state.

Other panelists include Don Radtke, of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau; Ian Coxhead, from the UW-Madison Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; Will Hsu, of Hsu’s Ginseng; Phil Karsting, formerly with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Services; and moderator Pam Jahnke, from Wisconsin Farm Report Radio.

The discussion will be held June 18 in Wausau.

See event details:


# Hiring outlook in Madison, Milwaukee among strongest nationally

# Brookfield Obamacare cooperative swings to a $135M profit, cuts prices 19%

# DNR sends Johnson Controls contamination case to state Department Of Justice

# Vos says GOP tax cut would counter fee increases in transportation plan, tax on e-cigs possible



– ProVision Partners, Federation Co-op merger is a go


– Bio Fab moving operations to new Pleasant Prairie facility


– Barrett Lo to begin construction in July for second phase of its Oak Creek project

– Buildings, tax cuts on tap for budget panel

– Madison Finance Committee recommends Gebhardt Development for Judge Doyle Square project


– MLK Economic Development Corp. names new executive director


– Farmers get improved conditions to work with last week

– High lake levels in Wisconsin leave some nearby properties and roads underwater


– Diversion of 7 million gallons of water per day for Foxconn area upheld

– Judge says Racine can divert water for Foxconn

– Approval for Foxconn Great Lakes water diversion upheld

– Foxconn to expand Wisconsin plant portfolio, with Apple products a possibility due to Trump tariffs

– U.S. professor Jay Lee named to Foxconn’s leadership committee succeeding Terry Gou


– County supervisor says planned behavioral health hospital should be built at County Grounds


– Harley-Davidson CEO talks about countering tariffs with Thailand plant and on going quiet with LiveWire


– State Farm Bureau members return from D.C. leadership trip

– FarmFirst Co-op endorses ‘FEEDD Act’

– Dane County Executive Joe Parisi: Capital spending entering ‘uncharted territory’


– Scannell Properties buys Kenosha County building from Wangard, Hunzinger


– Kohl’s to close all Off/Aisle locations


– 1st & Bowl opening soon in Wauwatosa

– Antetokounmpo’s Nike shoe rollout will elevate his brand into a ‘different stratosphere,’ agent says

– Wisconsin Ag Open set for September

– In Madison, municipal golf courses are bleeding green


– Cardiac Science to be acquired by ZOLL Medical Corp.


– First cruise ship of season, the Pearl Mist, docks in Milwaukee port


– Margaret Krome: Wisconsin should follow Iowa’s lead on cover crop programs


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors: May home sales up 0.7 percent

Advancing AI Wisconsin and St. Norbert College: Introduce the Digital Transformation Series

Wisconsin Technology Council: Brookfield Academy students win annual ‘Wisconsin YES!’ youth business plan contest

Great Water Alliance: Waukesha Water Utility announces prequalifying process for contractors