Leaders of the state’s budget committee want a gradual approach to changing Wisconsin’s long-term care system.
Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal would overhaul the system which provides long-term care to more than 50,000 state residents who are elderly or have long-term disabilities. The state spends some $2 billion annually on the Family Care and IRIS Medicaid programs.
“We’re going to be saying no to the governor’s proposals dealing with IRIS and Family Care, but we’re going to be giving specific instructions on how we can look at the sustainability of these programs moving forward,” Joint Finance Committee co-chair, Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) said Thursday.
The Republican governor’s proposal would have the state contract with insurance companies to manage both long-term care and medical care.
“We’re for keeping the strengths of Family Care, we’re for reforming things that need to be reformed in terms of better integrated care and better health outcomes and better costs,” said JFC co-chair, Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). “And sustainability,” Nygren added.
Darling and Nygren said they’ll request that the state Department of Health Services work with stakeholders on a more modest package of changes.
Lisa Pugh, who serves as Public Policy Director for Disability Rights Wisconsin and Coordinator for the Wisconsin Disability Policy Partnership, was pleased with the decision, but urged caution.
“This new proposal already presumes where we are going. Advocates want to take a step back,” Pugh said in a statement. “We think we need to better understand and target the cost drivers in Medicaid and long-term care. Taxpayers are depending on us to get this right for the future. Let’s not presume we have the right answer before sitting down to have our first discussions about the problem.”