On Friday, March 26, Governor Tony Evers announced that he had signed 14 bills into law, including several key healthcare-related bills. One of these bills was Senate Bill 3, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 9, which we last covered here. The law authorizes the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) to license and regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The Assembly passed the bill on March 16 on a 94-0 margin; the Senate passed it one month earlier on February 16 by a vote of 31-1.
The provisions of the bill are consistent with similar legislation that stalled in the Senate last session, with some changes to the effective dates of certain provisions. The effective date of the bill will be January 1, 2022, except for three provisions:
- The gag clause language, as required in 632.861 (2), took effect on March 28.
- The cost sharing limitation, as required in 632.861 (3), takes effect on June 30, 2021.
- The audits, as treated under 632.865(6), take effect on June 30, 2021.
Gov. Evers also signed Assembly Bill 148 into law as 2021 Wisconsin Act 10. The law includes several COVID-19 provisions that were originally part of Assembly Bill 1, an omnibus COVID-19 response package vetoed by the governor after he and the Legislature failed to reach a compromise. We covered the story of AB 1 here, here, and here. Act 10 ensures hospitals are adequately compensated under the state’s Medicaid program and that licensed, out-of-state healthcare providers are able to quickly begin providing care in Wisconsin. Both houses passed the bill on voice votes on March 23, which we covered here.
Also on March 26, Gov. Evers vetoed Senate Bill 38, which would have required the governor to develop a plan for all state employees to return to working in-person. The governor also vetoed Senate Bill 39, which would have allowed a student attending a virtual charter school in a nonresident school district to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities in their resident school district. A few days later, on March 29, Gov. Evers announced his veto of Senate Bill 183, which would have given the Legislature the ability to review the governor’s plans to spend federal aid related to COVID-19.
On April 1, Gov. Evers signed 2021 Wisconsin Act 24, which began in the Legislature as Assembly Bill 27. According to the governor’s press release, “the new law will provide a stable funding source for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)… CUB is an independent, non-profit group that represents customers in rate case and utility construction proceedings before the Public Service Commission (PSC). Previously, CUB relied on funding from a PSC grant, which was subject to approval in Wisconsin’s biennial budget.”
Act 24 allows the PSC to authorize up to $900,000 annually to fund the CUB, paid for by Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities. It also included language to fix an unintended result of an earlier law enacted in 2017. AB 27 passed the Assembly and Senate on voice votes in March.