TUE AM News: UW System student health worker initiative gets funding boost; Evers announces $12M homelessness plan

— A UW System initiative will provide incentives to twice as many student health care workers with additional funding from the Wisconsin Partnership Program. 

This UW School of Medicine and Public Health program is providing $500,000 for the effort, doubling the total funding for the incentive program that was announced in December 2021. The state Department of Health Services provided the initial funds. 

In a release yesterday, the UW System said it will now be providing a $500 tuition credit during the spring semester to up to 2,000 nursing students that work at least 50 hours in various health care settings. 

The program aims to help the state’s beleaguered health care system as Wisconsin moves past the recent surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant. The funding comes amid a nationwide shortage of nurses that’s also impacting care providers in the state. 

The Wisconsin Nurses Association estimates the state’s workforce was short 2,800 nurses in 2020, and the problem is only expected to get worse. 

“Through this collaboration, we can continue to support our health care systems and the health of Wisconsin’s residents at a time of critical need, and provide practical experience for nursing students entering the work force,” UW-Madison School of Nursing Dean Linda D. Scott said in a release. 

To qualify for the tuition credit, students must work for at least 50 hours in a clinical or health care setting in the state between Dec. 1, 2021 and March 20 of this year. These include hospitals, clinics, state or local health care facilities, state veterans homes, nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. Students that do so can get a $500 tuition refund at the end of the spring semester this year. 

Amy Kind, executive director of the Wisconsin Partnership Program and associate dean for social health sciences and programs for the UW SMPH, says COVID-19 challenges remain for the state’s health care system and its workers. 

“This new Wisconsin Partnership Program funding moves forward at a key time to address health care staffing concerns within all corners of Wisconsin to better the lives of all,” she said in the release. 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/uw-madison-tuition-credit-initiative-bolsters-wisconsins-health-care-workforce-during-covid-19-surge/ 

— Gov. Tony Evers has announced a roughly $12 million plan to help the homeless by creating a permanent rental assistance program for veterans and providing more help to landlords to fix affordable housing units.

In a 44-page report released by the Interagency Council on Homelessness, the guv recommended spending $1 million to create a Permanent Housing Rental Assistance Program for homeless veterans and $2 million on grants to help landlords rehab affordable housing units. Evers in a press release said reducing homelessness would improve a myriad of problems Wisconsinites face.

“Having safe, stable housing is the first step of not only keeping our neighbors safe and healthy but is also key in ensuring our state’s continued economic recovery, strengthening our communities, and ensuring kids, families, and workers can be successful,” he said.

Evers spokeswoman Britt Cuddaback told WisPolitics.com the funds would come from future state budgets or require specific legislation. Cuddaback also said some of the recommendations could be instituted without legislative approval.

Many of the recommendations are from Evers’ 2021-23 proposed budget.

Other recommendations include:

*$1 million yearly to create a Homelessness Diversion Program;

*$1 million yearly to increase Homelessness Prevention Program;

*$700,000 yearly to increase the State Shelter Subsidy Grant Program;

*$600,000 yearly to create a Housing Navigation Program;

*Increasing by $500,000 the Homelessness Case Management Services Program;

*$250,000 yearly to increase Skills Enhancement Program funding;

*various changes to landlord-tenant state laws;

*Increasing the state Housing Tax Credit Program limit to $100 million from $42 million yearly to promote affordable housing development;

*submitting a Medicaid state plan amendment to allow Wisconsin Medicaid to pay for housing support services for Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus members; and

*drafting a report on the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on homeless people and homelessness systems with a set of recommendations for future disasters and pandemics.

See the release and report:

— Dem lawmakers have announced the BadgerCare Public Option Act aimed at expanding affordable health care coverage options for small businesses and people living above the federal poverty line. 

The bill would create an online marketplace under the Affordable Care Act and provide coverage for small businesses with 50 employees or less. It would also offer a basic plan for those without kids making between 133 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty line. One of the bill’s authors, Rep. Supreme Moore-Omokunde, in a virtual press conference said the bill would help improve health care equity by providing more access to hospitals, doctors and other health care areas. 

“And also we want to make sure that we’re able to keep hospitals closer to individuals,” the Milwaukee Dem said. “That they’re not seeking greener pastures, if you will, elsewhere outside of places like the 17th Assembly District and to places where it might be more profitable for them to be located elsewhere.” 

Rep. Kristina Shelton, D-Green Bay, said health care is a human right, and this move would help bridge coverage gaps. 

“We can provide affordable, equitable high-quality health care coverage, and we can do it with this bill,” she said. 

Citizen Action Executive Director Robert Kraig said the bill would help those who need health care across the state and not just some populations. 

Kraig said due to Wisconsin’s demographics, the bill would help more white people than people of color. But, he noted, “people of color are disproportionately impacted by the current health care system” which “has been set up for the profit of health care industry actors.” 

Watch the press conference here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=316396663795199 

—  Researchers with UW-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine have found sleep apnea during pregnancy could have wide-ranging impacts on children, particularly males. 

Multiple studies using lab rats found that sleep apnea during pregnancy can result in high blood pressure, brain inflammation, neurological problems and changes in the intestinal tract, with the effects being “most pronounced” among males. Scientists still aren’t sure why this difference exists. 

As obesity rates rise around the world, sleep apnea is also becoming more common, according to a release from the university. The condition occurs in about 15 percent of typical pregnancies and 60 percent of “high-risk” pregnancies. 

Multiple studies have been conducted at the university exploring the issue of sleep apnea in pregnancy. The most recent of these, published recently in the journal PLOS Biology, involved pregnant rats being exposed to brief periods of low oxygen, which simulates the effects of sleep apnea. Rats do not naturally experience this condition. 

The male offspring of these rates were found to exhibit behavioral changes “resembling autism” at higher rates than female offspring or the control group. These included behavioral changes such as abnormal vocalization patterns, impaired memory, lower levels of socialization and increased repetitive behaviors. 

Along with the behavioral differences, researchers also noticed “physical abnormalities” in the brain cells of the affected rats. While these changes were seen in both male and female rats, the difference was “significantly worse” in males. Similar abnormalities have also been linked to autism in humans, according to the release. 

“Our data provide clear evidence that maternal sleep apnea may be an important risk factor for the development of neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly in male offspring,” said Michael Cahill, a professor in the Department of Comparative Biosciences. 

An earlier study from the university also found similar low-oxygen conditions in development increases the risk for adult males to develop high blood pressure. 

Researchers involved with these studies aim to inform doctors working with pregnant patients, in hopes of reducing these complications. Efforts are underway to understand why the issue is more pronounced among males. 

See the most recent study here: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3001502 

— A report from UW-Extension shows Wisconsin in December had about 2.4 job openings for every unemployed individual. 

Using preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report notes the state had 204,000 job openings and 86,000 unemployed individuals in December, for a ratio of 0.42 people per opening. 

This is the lowest that ratio has been in decades, according to the report. December was the 12th month in a row that the state had more posted job openings than unemployed people. It notes the peak reached 4.4 unemployed individuals per job opening in April 2020, early in the pandemic. 

But that never exceeded the ratio of 6.0 seen during the Great Recession in 2009, and declined quickly as the state economy began the long pandemic recovery process. 

The current ratio is “somewhat below” levels from 2017, 2018 and 2019, the report shows. 

“The ratio during these years also remained below 1.0 and suggests that labor availability issues were rising before the onset of the pandemic,” wrote Matt Kures, a distinguished community developments specialist with the Division of Extension’s Community Development Institute. 

See the report here: https://economicdevelopment.extension.wisc.edu/2022/02/24/unemployed-individuals-to-job-openings-lowest-in-decades/ 

— Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still warns the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could result in more cyberthreats to businesses, as well as destabilization of the U.S. semiconductor industry. 

In a column posted to the Tech Council site, Still notes the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is urging businesses, public agencies and other entities to protect critical digital assets as the conflict unfolds. He also points to cybersecurity experts identifying a sharp increase in “cyber probing” in recent months. 

“Geography has long protected America from invasions such as what has taken place in Ukraine. In a digital age, however, physical and economic borders can be pierced,” he wrote. 

Still touches on the potential impact on energy costs as well as Wall Street, noting the U.S. economy has already been challenged with the pandemic, inflation, supply chain problems and the likelihood of higher interest rates. But he argues the “biggest danger may be cybersecurity attacks.” 

He added that economic risks “extend beyond energy,” as Ukraine is a major producer of neon gas for lasers used in computer chip production, supplying more than 90 percent of U.S. semiconductor-grade neon. Semiconductors are critical for a wide array of electronic devices and industries, including computing, transportation, health care, military technology and more.

“If Ukraine falls, the U.S. semiconductor chip industry could be hurt,” Still wrote. 

See the full column: https://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/insidewis-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-can-hurt-u-s-economy-with-cyberattacks-a-major-worry/ 


# Welcome to the ‘cheese Olympics’


# Region’s manufacturing index in February had biggest gain since spring 2020

# Wisconsin homelessness council issues recommendations




– GreenStone offering $40,000 in CultivateGrowth grants


– Dane County tops state in soy, corn & silage production in 2021


– Eau Claire Farm Show finding its feet again



– City leaders, labor groups eye infrastructure money for major bridge project as Biden visits Superior



– Wisconsin to host 20th annual National Dairy Challenge



– Sturgeon spearing harvest was sluggish, but heavy



– Ice cream shop fills Midtown Tosa need, and Turning Tables at Turner Hall: Quick Bites


– Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ will live on after death of award-winning chef and owner



– Don’t leave immunocompromised patients behind, Wisconsin doctor pleads


– State Democrats introduce BadgerCare public option proposal with days left in legislative session



– Q&A: Alan Branch prepares to lead new skilled trade center in Dane County



– Nonprofit leader, entrepreneur Stephanie Sherman to lead strategic partnerships for Tempo


– YMCA of Greater Waukesha County rebounding after pandemic hit


– Anti-abortion groups question grants by Wisconsin governor



– Renters struggle as Madison-area rents rise faster than usual


– Elm Grove revises public financing plan for conversion of former convent into apartments


– Minneapolis real estate company buys site near I-94 in Mount Pleasant


– Packers, Kaul team up to provide child identification kits


– Packers will play game in London next season


– As pandemic feels like it’s thawing, Janesville and Beloit locals feast on films, beer



<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

Champion Care: Two leaders with The Bay Health and Rehabilitation Centers recognized as ‘Women of Distinction’

Skogen’s Festival Foods: Sponsors Wisconsin VFW 1920s Gala

Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges: Celebrate career and technical education every day