February 26, 2016

 Series of Alzheimer's Bills Passed by State Assembly


I’m honored to have been assigned to the Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I’m proud to have the opportunity to bring awareness to this important issue.  Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in America and the only one in the top ten that can’t be prevented, treated or cured, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Our goals, included identifying ways to improve and sustain in-home care, improving and promoting community-based resources for those suffering with Alzheimer's and Dementia, continue raising individual and community awareness of these diseases, and determining ways to ensure future quality of care while lowing the cost of long-term care. Through public hearings, listening to experts, caregivers, state officials and community members, we compiled enough information and ideas to guide our legislation. These diseases impact the citizens of Wisconsin every day, affecting friends, and family.


Last week, the State Assembly passed a series of bills that improve the care of those suffering from these diseases by providing community-based resources and education.  these bills are, meaningful progress in addressing the awareness and symptoms of these diseases and providing resources for individuals, families, and friends who are impacted. Below is a summary of the legislation:


The bill I authored, AB 788, relating to: funding for dementia care specialists in aging and disability resource centers and making an appropriation.
• Increases funding to DHS for the fiscal year 2016-17 to put additional money into base funding to authorize the hiring of four additional Dementia Care Specialists (DCSs) by ADRCs in counties with a population under 150,000.
• This bill also increases funding to DHS to fill one additional FTE position for the training of Dementia Care Specialists in ADRCs to educate employers about issues relating to dementia with their employees and family members of employees. The bill funds this position through an increase of $93,000 GPR. After one year, DHS must submit a report to JFC including a summary of the position, training activities performed, and dementia-related employer education activities conducted by the position.


AB 783, relating to: funding for a virtual dementia tour license and making an appropriation.

• Directs the Department of Health Services to purchase Virtual Dementia Tour Licenses to be utilized at Aging and Disability Resources Centers throughout Wisconsin.
• The Virtual Dementia Tour is used to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia and to help people understand these diseases.
• It is often employed by Dementia Care Specialists in their local communities.
• Appropriates $50,000 one-time to DHS for the purchase of licenses.

AB 784, relating to: funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Wisconsin−Madison and making an appropriation.

• The funding would be for 2 studies, the new studies include plans to analyze blood samples from adult, middle-aged children of patients with Alzheimer’s. These adult children are at an increased risk of developing the disease and analysis of their blood samples may allow them to identify new abnormal proteins that could cause Alzheimer’s. Discovery of such novel proteins could attract large grants from NIH (National Institutes of Health) and other federal agencies, and lead to new potential treatments and prevention approaches for Alzheimer’s.
• The bill provides an ongoing appropriation of $50,000 to support the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

AB 785, relating to: dementia specialist certification program.
• Creates a dementia specialist certification.
• No person may use the title "dementia specialist" or "certified dementia specialist"
without the certification.
• If a person provides evidence of successful completion of an approved instructional program and pays a certification fee, the Department of Health Services must certify that person as a dementia specialist. The certification is valid for two years and can be renewed if the individual provides proof to DHS of four hours of continuing education.

AB 786, relating to: report on dementia crisis unit pilot program and placement of individuals with dementia.
• Requires DHS to propose a pilot program for two or more counties to create dementia crisis units.
• These dementia crisis units would be an option for individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia who are in a crisis situation.
• The department shall submit the report to the appropriate standing committee of the legislature with jurisdiction over health, aging and long-term care, or mental health issues.

AB 787, relating to: funding for respite care under the Alzheimer’s Family and Caregiver Support Program and making an appropriation.
• Provides a $1 million increase for respite care under the Alzheimer’s Family and Caregiver Support Program (AFCSP) for fiscal year 2016-17.
• AFCSP was formed as part of the 1985-87 annual budget and is currently allocated $1.5 million in calendar year 2015.
• Allows tribes to participate in the AFCSP. Since the inception of the program, tribes have not been able to utilize the AFCSP.
• Currently, an individual or there family member must have an annual income of no more than $40,000 to participate in the AFCSP. As amended, an individual or there family member must have an annual income of no more $48,000, which is 300% of the federal poverty line.

AB 789, relating to: continuing legal and judicial education on elder law−related issues.
• Requests the Wisconsin Supreme Court to promulgate rules requiring attorneys who practice elder law or trusts and estates law to complete certain continuing legal education requirements. Requires the court to do the same for justices relating to elder law and trusts and estates law.
• This legislation looks to strengthen the system we already have in place to protect those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia from fraud and financial abuse.
• The supreme court is requested to promulgate rules that require each attorney to complete, each reporting period, at least one continuing legal education credit but no more than 2 continuing legal education credits relating to identification of financial exploitation and isolation of vulnerable adults and ethical representation of older adults, including methodology and standards for reasonable diligence in pursuing a client's best interest, as determined by the board of bar examiners.

AB 790, relating to: dementia training grants for mobile crisis teams and making an appropriation.
• Requires the Department of Health Services to award grants to counties or regions of counties for their mobile crisis teams to obtain training on recognizing and serving individuals with dementia.
• Under current law, the state provides grants to mobile crisis teams to help provide assistance in cases of individuals suffering from acute mental illness. These teams respond in situations where an individual’s mental or emotional condition leads to behavior which makes them a danger to themselves or others. Grants are currently distributed to counties which apply for them.
• It is increasingly necessary for these teams to be trained to respond to individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia. As Wisconsin’s population ages, mobile crisis teams are more often being called to an emergency involving a person with dementia.

AB 791, relating to: informed consent for psychotropic medications in nursing homes and community−based residential facilities.
• Requires a community−based residential facility to obtain a signed acknowledgment form for administration of psychotropic medications to residents with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Psychotropic medications have Black Box Warnings for individuals with a degenerative brain disorder, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia because they increase mortality. Black Box Warnings are assigned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are intended as warnings for the administration of certain drugs.
• Creates requirements for obtaining a signed acknowledgment form, for residents who are prescribed medications while off the premises of a community−based residential facility.
• Current law already requires that nursing homes obtain written informed consent before administering a psychotropic medication that contains a boxed warning to any patient with a degenerative brain disorder.

AB 792, relating to: referrals for subjects of alerts for missing adults and operator’s license review.
• Requires a law enforcement agency that has issued a Silver Alert to refer the person making the report to a local ADRC.
• Also requires DOT to review the driver’s license of the person who is the subject of a Silver Alert to determine if restrictions should be placed on a person’s license for the safety of them and others.


Wisconsin Newspaper Association Legislative Service Award


This week I received the Wisconsin Newspaper Association’s (WNA) Legislative Service award. The award was given in appreciation of the time and effort, and work done on behalf of the welfare of the newspapers of Wisconsin.

The WNA presented the award as a thanks for supporting the newspaper industry, specifically the leadership demonstrated that led to the repeal of the Newspaper Recycling Fee earlier this session. Additionally, they applauded, and thanked me for the work done on the pending clarification in the Worker’s Compensation Act, that will help avoid potential financial consequences that could be devastating for the industry if it were to remain unchanged.

Having worked in the newspaper business for 25 years, the award is very special to receive and a great ending to my lengthy newspaper career. It’s an honor to be recognized by an industry that I know, understand, and will continue to be a friend.

The award was presented by Pat Reilly, the Publisher of The Dodgeville Chronicle and WNA board member.




What's Been Happening


Recently, I've had the pleasure of attending some local events, in addition to meeting with people at the Capitol in Madison.


Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Zach Sherman, Austin Erdenberger, Taylor Alt, April Brandt, Brett Hederman, and Jared Bollinger, a group of students from Southwest Tech this week. Thank you guys for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed your visit to Madison!


On Monday, I was in Monroe with Kitty Rhoades, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. We took tours of GreenCo Industries, and Monroe Clinic.  We toured and met with staff at both facilities, and had were shown the LEAN process improvement practices in place at the Monroe Clinic. Additionally, we discussed the residency program they've established and how it is making a difference in training Doctors pursuing a career in rural medicine.  It's always a pleasure to get out in the community to tour local businesses, meet with staff, and discuss what's important to them.


I was glad to have also met with the Wisconsin Pork Association this week.  Two of their board members, Mandy Masters, and Nathan Brickl, came to the Capitol to sit down and discuss issues and policy important to them. 


 Zach Sherman, Austin Erdenberger, Taylor Alt, April Brandt, Brett Hederman, and Jared Bollinger, a group of students from Southwest Tech this week. Tour and staff meet and greet with DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades, and GreenCo CEO Jean Zweifel.
Dr. Mark Thompson, Monroe Cinic Chief Medical Officer, Mike Sanders Monroe Clinic CEO, Kitty Rhoades Secretary of DHS, Representative Todd Novak. Wisconsin Pork Association. (L to R) Nathan Brickl, Rep. Novak, & Mandy Masters.



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Email: Rep.Novak@legis.wisconsin.gov