March 8, 2015

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would shake up long-term care programs; disabilities advocates concerned

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Wisconsin cuts back on long-term institutional care for the disabled
Parents and guardians of patients at Central Wisconsin Center, one of the state’s facilities for the developmentally disabled, are worried that the state’s no-new-admissions policy could endanger people who could benefit from the centers’ services. Now a couple have gone to court to keep their child at the center.

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing sweeping changes to the state’s long-term care programs for the elderly and disabled, but the lack of detail has advocates concerned.

Walker’s 2015-17 budget calls for expanding the Family Care program statewide by Jan. 1, 2017. Currently, some individuals are receiving long-term care under other programs including IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct).

“The governor’s Family Care reforms end the state’s fragmented delivery of health and long-term care, while establishing the focus on the overall health and well-being of our members,” said Kitty Rhoades, secretary of the state Department of Health Services, in recent testimony before the Joint Finance Committee.

The budget would eliminate the state statute that created the IRIS program, which currently serves more than 11,000 people with long-term care needs. Rhoades said the services provided to these individuals will continue.

“I spent eight years building self-directed services,” said Rhoades, a former Republican legislator. “I’m not letting up.”

But Barbara Beckert, director of Disability Rights Wisconsin’s Milwaukee office, said the self-direction option of Family Care is “far more limited and has less flexibility” than IRIS. Beckert said few specifics have been provided about the change, and there has been no demonstration that it will lead to fiscal savings.

Beckert is also concerned about the state’s proposal to require managed care organizations to operate statewide as opposed to just in a particular region.

“I’m very dubious that’s going to be a smooth transition and I’m very worried about the safety, independence and well-being of the 55,000 individuals who are counting on these services for their quality of life,” Beckert said.

  • april nutter

    there is no way an insurance company will care about my sons needs ! even under private insurance its struggle for them to pay things without denying them first….insurance companies should not get the money that should be going to the elderly and disabled…point blank !

  • zombiespacedog

    I am a strong supporter of Governor Walker, however he is wrong on this one. He may not understand it, so families need to hit him and their state representatives hard.

  • Meg Ryan

    It isn’t right for Walker to take away funds for the elderly, the disabled and the needy-Those people need that money and care services than Walker and his vultures hoarding the money for pointless reasons. The elderly and the disabled need more help than anyone-They need support, they need care, they need special needs-I’m not one for politics, but I am putting my foot down to help my disabled brethren out there along with the elderly. I myself have a disability-ADHD though its a mental disability-its still a disability through and through-diagnosed with it since I was in kindergarden and growing up I was treated different from others. I got support from speech program to special need when it came to tests and more time. I get help from DVR and an organization that helps people with disabilities.

    What Walker is doing isn’t right for those who need help with home care, special needs, etc. He should leave the needy, elderly and disabled alone-DON’T CUT support and care! What needs to be CUT is the greedy mayor and his evil plans! HE SHOULD THINK OF THE PEOPLE THAN THE WALLETS! FOR WE have rights! FREEDOM of speech! AND A FREEDOM OF INDEPENDENCE for everyone! The People before GREED! Down with budget cuts and up with helping those in need!