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Contents

  • District Day
  • Budget Committee Meets
  • PDMP Statistics
  • Step Therapy Bill Update

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Legislative Website

Learn more about what I am working on here in Madison to improve the lives of my constituents!

HOPE Agenda

Stay up-to-date and informed on our progress to combat the opioid epidemic in our state.

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District Day

On Monday, I participated in another district day, this time in Oconto! Over the last couple of months, I have been making it my goal to visit every corner of the 89th Assembly District. I have already visited and held listening sessions in Howard and Marinette.

 

I started the day by touring the Oconto Unified School District. I had the opportunity to tour both the High School and the Elementary School. As the husband of a public school teacher, I understand the importance in adequately funding our public school system, that's why last year I championed the effort to put over $600 million of new funding directly into the classroom. Our children, regardless of their zip code, all deserve a high-class, quality education. From what I saw during my tour, I have no doubt that the educators in the Oconto Unified School District are providing just that. Thank you for all your hard work!

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After that, I visited with Cruisers Yachts. This local business builds finely crafted, high-quality yachts. Cruisers Yachts has a big impact on our local economy.  They employee more than 450 employees in four area Oconto plants. Thank you for having me and for all you do for our community!

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To end the day, I held a listening session at the Oconto Town Hall. Like my previous listening sessions, I had a great time speaking with constituents about the issues that matter most to them, and how I can be the most effective voice for them down in Madison.

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Joint Committee on Finance Begins 

This week, the Joint Committee on Finance met to begin our work on the state budget. In our first budget motion, we are continuing to put taxpayers first. As you may know, I am Co-Chair of the budget writing committee in Wisconsin. The Governor proposes his budget, then we, the legislature begin to make changes to it. We are starting the state budget process by removing more than $1 billion in tax hikes the governor proposed in his budget.

Here are a few more of the items we removed from the Governor’s budget:

  • It removes over $1 billion in tax increases.
  • It removes 71 non-fiscal policy items, as identified by LFB.
  • It removes capping the school choice program that limits the ability of low-income families to pick the school that is best for their children.
  • It removes the Governor’s expansion of welfare programs and maintains drug screening requirements and time limits for welfare.
  • It removes changes to unemployment insurance that will make it easier to not work and increase costs for employers at a time when unemployment is below 3%.
  • It removes the prevailing wage laws that were recently repealed. The repeal of prevailing wage has been shown to reduce state construction costs for roads and building

Our careful budgeting and reforms led to more than $2 billion in available revenues. There is simply no reason to raise taxes. We will make significant investments in shared priorities, but we will do it by living within our means. Our budget will be responsible, sustainable, and funded with the money we already have on hand.

We will also prevent the governor from removing many reforms which helped Wisconsin prosper over the last eight years. Those reforms worked and our economy proves it. Wisconsin is on its 14th straight month of unemployment at or below 3%. In 2018, we had the highest GDP growth since 2010. Our budget will make sure Wisconsin keeps moving forward.

Next week the Joint Committee on Finance will continue to make its way through the Governor’s budget. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact my office.

 

PDMP Statistics

Last week the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program released another quarterly report highlighting the impact the PDMP is having on opioid prescriptions around the state. The report covers from January 1, 2019, through March 31, 2019.

Here are some highlights:

  • Overall the trend of decreased dispensing of monitored prescription drugs continues in Wisconsin.
  • Opioid dispensing from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019 decreased by 5%, the highest reduction from a previous quarter since Q2 2017. This equates to a 9% reduction from the dispensing levels of Q1 2018.
  • The rate of pharmacy-dispensed Buprenorphine HCl-Naloxone HCl Dihydrate increased by 3% in Q1 2019, which equates to an increase of 21% in the past 12 months.
    • This is great news because it means more people are receiving medically assisted treatment.

I firmly believe that this decrease is a direct result of the hard work we have done in the state legislature. We voted to improve best practices regarding prescribing controlled substances by allowing medical boards to set prescribing guidelines to help minimize the instances of over-prescribing and reduce the chance of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction. In addition, we created reporting requirements for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). The PDMP is a valuable resource, connecting prescribers and pharmacists around the state, allowing prescribers and pharmacists to collaborate to provide more informed care.

The data is clear and reports that many prescribers are now more conscious of their prescribing practices, often looking for non-opioid solutions to pain. With that said, now is not the time to get complacent, we must build on this great news, there are still a lot more lives to save.

 

 Step Therapy Bill Passes Committee

 

 

This week the bill that I authored with Senator Alberta Darling to reform our state’s step therapy protocols passed out of both Senate and Assembly Committee on Health. The bill passed out of each committee unanimously with broad bipartisan support.

You may remember that in Wisconsin, patients often have to "fail" a drug or treatment plan before they can access the medicine their doctor prescribed. This measure, known as "step therapy," is meant to reduce costs by requiring patients to try cheaper alternatives first. Unfortunately, step therapy often ignores a patient's medical history and creates red tape that blocks patients from the best healthcare for them.

Patients are required to go through step therapy even if they already tried the cheaper drug under a different health plan or when the cheaper alternative interferes with other medications they are currently using. While insurers often have an exemption process from step therapy protocols, it can be unclear and results in unnecessary back and forth between the patient, doctor, and insurance company; all of which delays care.

Our bill does not outlaw step therapy but makes common-sense reforms to it, making sure patients get the right care, at the right time. The bill will now head to the floor of both the Senate and Assembly for passage. From there it will head to the desk of Governor Evers to be signed. I am confident that this bill will continue to move through the legislative process!

 Here is a photo from when advocates from around the state came to talk to legislators about this important bill:

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 |State Capitol | Post Office Box 8953 | Madison, Wisconsin 53708 (608) 266-2344 | Toll Free: (888) 534-0089 | Fax: (608) 282-3689 |Rep.Nygren@legis.wi.gov |