MON AM News: Evers’ budget tax proposals total a $1 billion increase; Study finds non-COVID patients are putting off preventative care

— The net impact of Gov. Tony Evers’ budget tax proposals would be a $1 billion increase over the biennium, according to his office.

The biggest chunk of that would come from matching state tax laws to the provisions of a tax bill former President Trump signed in December 2017. The combined impact of the numerous changes would be an increase of $540.1 million.

UW-Madison economics Professor Noah Williams said in general, “federalizing” the state tax code makes sense as it simplifies the combined tax code. 

“I also can’t help but point out that the state standard deduction is a great candidate for federalizing,” said Williams, founding director of the conservative Center for Research On the Wisconsin Economy. “As it is now, the phase-out of the deduction means that families a bit below the median income have the highest state marginal income tax rates.

But Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce said Evers is selectively choosing to conform only to those provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that would raise revenue. 

“Cherry-picking conformity provisions that increase revenue, without conforming to any of the TCJA provisions that cut taxes is not a serious discussion; it is simply trying to score political points on the backs of Main Street Wisconsin businesses,” said Cory Fish, WMC’s director of legal affairs. “During the middle of an economic crisis, any conformity should result in a net tax cut to help Wisconsin job creators continue to resuscitate Wisconsin’s economy.”

Read the full story at 

— Thousands of Wisconsinites can expect letters from the state about a new federal requirement that they must provide documentation to continue receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

The new documentation requirement is part of the federal Continued Assistance Act passed in late December. PUA provides benefits for people who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, like those who are self-employed or certain independent contractors.

“This is a significant change. It is another hurdle for people who qualify for these funds, but we are doing everything we can to make people aware of this requirement,” DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said.

Under the federal Continued Assistance Act, the federal government now requires that people seeking PUA benefits must send proof of employment or self-employment (or planned start of employment or self-employment) for the year before their PUA application date. Under federal law, anyone who fails to provide proof will be required to repay any PUA benefits received on Dec. 27 or later.

— Epic Health Research Network finds that the COVID-19 pandemic may be leading people to delay care in ways that could be harmful to their long-term health. 

A joint study from Epic and Kaiser Family Foundation found that Midwest hospitals saw a decline last fall in non-COVID hospital admissions as COVID-19 cases rose around the country. 

The data, from Jan. 4-Dec. 4, 2020, found the more recent decline in non-COVID-19 admissions had been steepest in the Midwest and West. In both of those regions, non-COVID-19 admissions were at roughly 76 percent of predicted levels at the end of November, as COVID-19 cases were surging in many parts of those regions.

Wisconsin saw its record case day on Nov. 18 when it reported just under 8,000 cases. The record seven-day average for daily confirmed cases was also Nov. 18, when Wisconsin had an average of 6,563 cases per day.

The study suggests that people may be delaying or forgoing care due to the pandemic, in some cases likely due to hospital capacity constraints.

This study follows up previous research with data from January to August. The last largest dip in non-COVID hospital admissions was in April when the Midwest saw 60 percent of expected capacity. Admissions were at 87 percent of predicted levels in early August.

See the EHRN study: 

— Wisconsin Hospital Association COO Brian Potter said after the drop in non-COVID patients in the spring, it was thought that hospitals could see peaks in non-COVID patients in the fall. That didn’t happen.

People are putting off mammograms, colonoscopies, and other preventative procedures or non-emergency services, he said.

Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative Executive Director Tim Size said Wisconsin hospitals have been seeing low counts for outpatients. He speculates that it’s because the flu season has brought so few cases this year — mitigation strategies, such as mask-wearing, for COVID-19 also stop the spread of other communicable illnesses. 

Both Size and Potter said that fall surges in cases and the new coronavirus variants may be keeping people at home. Potter added people may not want to take off work due to the economic crisis or may have lost their job and are transitioning their health insurance coverage. 

“There’s a lot of different factors that can cause some of this delayed care,” he said. “Hospitals and health systems are really trying to educate the public that when you need care, we can make this all work and health systems are safe places to get needed care, and there are health consequences for delaying important care.”

In turn, it’s also caused a huge financial burden for Wisconsin hospitals, which could not downsize during the pandemic to deal with a decrease in revenue — instead, health systems incurred costs for PPE, for example. Some hospitals had to implement furloughs and staff cuts.

Federal CARES Act aid and state relief programs did not fill the hole, but they helped, Potter added.

“So, a challenging time from the provider perspective as well, but also, when there’s challenges like this, it’s also another opportunity for them to shine in their communities,” he said. “It’s also good that the curve is being bent on the COVID side. Now with some of the vaccine rollouts … hopefully, we’re really on a path to getting back to what the new normal will look like.”

— Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill allowing pharmacy technicians and students to administer COVID-19 vaccines under certain conditions.

The guv signed the bill at UW-Oshkosh following a tour of the campus’ COVID-19 vaccination clinic that opened last week in partnership with Advocate Aurora Health and the Winnebago County Health Department.

The bill, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 3, allows a pharmacy student who has completed two years of pharmacy school to administer a vaccine under the supervision of a health care provider who is authorized to administer vaccines. 

“While we work to get shots in arms as soon as we have supply available, we also want to make sure we’re maximizing our capacity by expanding the number of people who can administer those doses once we have them,” Evers said. “Getting vaccine doses to folks across our state continues to be our top priority so we can recover and bounce back from this pandemic.”

See more in the latest Health Care Report:

— Wisconsin has administered over 1.1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 349,000 of those were booster shots, meaning more than 349,000 Wisconsinites have completed a two-dose vaccine series and are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nearly 47 percent of individuals age 65 or over have received at least the first dose. About 13.9 percent of Wisconsinites — 806,867 people — have gotten at least the first dose.

The state reported 403 new COVID-19 cases coming into today, bringing the seven-day average for daily confirmed cases down to 610 from 624 cases Saturday. That’s the lowest average since early July. 

Wisconsin has 8,882 active cases and more than 559,500 cumulative cases. DHS’ coronavirus dashboard shows the average positive test percentage fell to 2.7 percent. That’s the lowest percentage since March when the pandemic started to take hold in Wisconsin. 

The state’s death toll reads 6,284 after the state added 17 COVID-19 deaths this weekend. The seven-day average for daily deaths is 17. The highest average was 61 on Dec. 7.

Counties reporting the most COVID-19 deaths with their tolls in parentheses are Milwaukee (1,221), Waukesha (471), Racine (314), Kenosha (299) and Dane (267).

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 


# Generac, Briggs & Stratton, Kohler working overtime to supply generators to Texas

# A dramatic vision and possible major changes for West Towne Mall



– Cheese group encouraged about dairy exports 

– USDA to Gauge Economics of 1,350 Wisconsin Farms 


– Burlington Schools Disciplined Students Responsible For Racist Incidents 


– Wolf Hunt Will Move Forward After Panel Of Judges Dismisses DNR Appeal 


– Indoor urban farm planned for Century City 


– Northwestern Mutual tops $2 trillion in life insurance for policyowners 


– DWD’s Authority To Waive 1-Week Unemployment Waiting Period In Question 


– Rezoning plan for Komatsu HQ site near AmFam Field would allow stadium district-type development 


– American Family Field sign arrives for Brewers 


– Milwaukee museums bring back staff, seek additional PPP funding with second reopening 


– Onalaska business sees increased interest in solar energy 


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

– Serenity Pet Salon & Spa: February is National Pet Dental Health Month

– Wisconsin Credit Union League: Tips for improving your credit score

– Security Health Plan: Donation helps ambulance service keep small children safer

– Wisconsin BBB: Planning a getaway during a pandemic? Take these precautions