The state Assembly is expected to vote today on a bill that would lift an enrollment cap on Wisconsin’s Family Care program. The cap imposed in the last state budget was intended to give state officials some time to make the rapidly growing program more cost efficient.
State Representative Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) says it appears it was time well spent, with the state Health Department finding nearly $80 million in cost efficiencies and cuts. Kaufert is the Assembly sponsor of the bill.
Family Care provides assistance to the elderly and disabled so they can receive care in-home. Advocates for the program say it results in significant savings, because the costs are much lower than they would be for the same type of care in a long-term facility.
The governor originally proposed making the program available in every county, but Kaufert says an amendment will slow that expansion. The change requires the Legislature’s budget committee to approve adding any new counties. Kaufert says the move is meant to address concerns about sustaining the program in the long run.
Federal officials have told the state the cap needs to be lifted or Wisconsin could lose federal funding. Kaufert says that is a concern, but notes the cap was never meant to be permanent. He expects the bill to pass with strong bipartisan support, much like it did in the Senate.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (:57)
Aside from the Family Care bill, the Assembly is expected to take up a very lengthy calendar Tuesday that contains dozens of bills. They include the creation of a wolf hunting season, overhauling permits for construction near navigable water and ending “double dipping” by retired state workers. Proposed constitutional amendments on the reasons for recalling an elected official and selecting the chief justice of the state Supreme Court are also up for a vote.