WED AM News: Proposed Medicaid rule change criticized by hospitals, state officials; Assembly panel approves package of bills to help farmers

— The Wisconsin Hospital Association is asking the federal agency overseeing Medicaid to withdraw a proposed rule change, warning it could “adversely affect” the state’s Medicaid budget. 

“The proposed rule would introduce uncertainty as to how CMS would evaluate state funding arrangements for the Medicaid program,” WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding said in a statement referring to the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation. “At the very least it would entail new reporting requirements and new administrative burden for arrangements that have already been reviewed and approved.” 

State Medicaid Director Jim Jones says he’s also worried about increased reporting requirements in the proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

“Any time they request more information and more reporting, that means I need more staff and IT resources to comply with those requirements,” he told “More reporting means more administrative work for the state.” 

In a recent interview, Jones explained the proposed rule would place “a great many” new reporting requirements on states related to Medicaid program funding. Plus, he said the highly technical rule would restrict funding sources for these programs. 

He expects other states will see much larger changes from the proposed rule than Wisconsin. That’s because Wisconsin relies less on separate funding sources for Medicaid programs aside from state and federal sources, he said. 

But Jones won’t weigh in on potential fiscal impacts in Wisconsin until the finalized version of the rule is released by CMS. And he says that could take a while. 

“We don’t know when the final rule will come out,” he said, adding the federal government’s process for finalizing rules like these can take years in some cases. In others, the process is done in just a few months. 

See more:

— An Assembly panel has thrown bipartisan support behind two tax cuts targeted largely to farmers while pumping more money into one of the Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals to help the struggling ag industry.

The most expensive piece of the Assembly GOP package is an income tax credit for farmers that amounts to $27.3 million a year. The credit would be based on the property taxes that farmers pay on agricultural buildings.

Rep. Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, defended the cost during a public hearing, noting ag is a $100 billion industry and adding that while the credit is a “significant investment,” he believed it was “very appropriate.” The credit would apply to 2020-21 through 2022-23 before sunsetting.

The panel also unanimously backed both Evers’ special session ag bills. But the panel’s Dems voted against a GOP-backed amendment to pump an additional $4 million into Evers’ proposal to boost dairy exports.

See more at 

— The Center for Technology Commercialization is encouraging Wisconsin entrepreneurs with high-risk ideas to seek federal small business grants. 

The federal government has set aside over $3.7 billion in programs such as as the Small Business Innovation Research grant program. That’s according to CTC Program Manager Todd Strother, who spoke yesterday at a meeting of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce in Madison. 

Small businesses eligible for these federal grants must conduct research to find an innovative solution to a significant problem or need. The goal is for participating businesses to develop high-impact commercial products. 

According to Strother, these federal grants fund high-risk and high-payback innovations. 

“If it’s low-risk, get venture capital,” he said.

After companies receive SBIR grants, they can work with other businesses or fund their research through a university. 

In order to qualify as a small business for the grant, companies have to be for-profit with more than 50 percent U.S. ownership and fewer than 500 employees.

According to the SBIR website, the grant roadmap has three phases. Phase one, which is about $150,000 for six months in funds, requires the startup to establish technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the proposed research efforts. Phase two, an amount of no more than $1 million for two years, continues the research efforts. Phase three is for the business to pursue commercialization resulting from the prior funded research. 

The CTC is a part of the UW System and services are free. The group assists entrepreneurs and small businesses in preparing business or commercialization plans and writing grants such as SBIR.  

Fifteen Wisconsin companies received around $8.6 million in federal seed funding grants in 2019. That includes SBIR as well as related STTR grants, which stands for Small Business Technology Transfer. 

See more on the SBIR and STTR grant programs at:

— Also at the chamber’s event, Strother recommended entrepreneurs use the lean startup method, an approach focusing on customers over product. 

“More startups fail from lack of customers than from a failure of product development,” he said. “Instead of building a perfect product, put it out there early, collect solid data and pivot.”

Strother advocated for startups to engage with other people about the customer’s needs and values adding that “lean startup is a contact sport.”

He recommended the lean startup method for when the market or product fit is unknown or uncertain. It requires entrepreneurs to collect data from people and “distance themselves from their passion to think about the market.” 

Instead of putting “ornaments on a tree” by hiring accountants, employees and spending on advertising, Strother said to focus on real needs like customer identification and relationships, as well as the value proposition for their product or service. 

See more from the CTC: 

— The Department of Financial Institutions has rolled out a new $150,000 statewide grant program meant to encourage financial education in K-12 schools.

DFI’s grant, done in partnership with the Department of Public Instruction, is open to both public and private schools. Schools that apply may receive up to $10,000 with a maximum grant of $30,000 per district.

“Financial literacy is an important life skill that helps students take control of their financial future and be knowledgeable consumers when they reach adulthood,” DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld said in a statement. “This program reinforces our continued commitment to educating Wisconsin’s K-12 students about personal financial matters.”

DPI said it would evaluate applications on criteria and present recommendations for disbursement to a sub-committee of the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy. DFI said it’s funding the grant through settlement dollars designated for financial literacy education.

See the release:

— A Milwaukee-area startup called VasoGnosis is launching the beta version of its app, which helps radiologists diagnose aneurysms. 

It’s being launched as a free “research only” tool for public use this month, which marks one year since the company was launched by founder Ali Bakhshinejad. His business was created after he spent six months in a postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he conducted research that formed the basis of VasoGnosis. 

See the demo launch announcement: 

Listen to an earlier podcast with Bakhshinejad: 


# Republicans push $30 million a year in farm tax breaks

# Manufacturing a drag on ‘lackluster’ metro Milwaukee economic indicators

# Bipartisan bill introduced that would extend bar hours during DNC

# Madison looks to update ordinance governing Airbnb, other tourist rooming hotel operations



– Nominations sought for state’s organic council


– Wisconsin Pork Association awards scholarships to high school, college students


– Case involving roofing contractor raises questions about malpractice allegations against public defenders


– Brian Kuhnau named president of Everbrite


– Vennture Brew Co.’s local success leads to expanded staff and more equipment


– Safety4Her earns cash prize on ‘Project Pitch It’


– Committee ready to start looking at ag legislation package


– La Causa plans new headquarters in Walker’s Point


– Common Council approval paves way for financing of Wisconsin Center expansion


– Brooks Brothers to open store at The Corners of Brookfield


– Bucks announce six-figure commitment to social injustice during summit at Fiserv Forum


– Oriental Theatre, Zócalo Food Park join hundreds of venues vying for DNC business


– Demolition of Red Wing Bridge over Mississippi River ramps up


– Coal shipping in Twin Ports drops while wind cargo surges


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

Bradley Corp.: Looking to increase business? Start by maintaining the restrooms

MWFPA: Food product association scholarships available