November 2, 2015


NEW! "Study: Genetic discovery may lead to autism treatment", Channel3000.com, June 11, 2015 (Austin is the cousin of Jim Hoegemeier, executive director of The Arc-Wisconsin)

May 28, 2015 -Yesterday, after nearly three hours of deliberations, the Joint Committee on Finance approved an omnibus motion that incorporated some, but not all, of the changes to Family Care, IRIS and Aging and Disability Resource Centers in the proposed budget. Due to the strong opposition to the changes in the original budget proposal, Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and Representative Dean Knudson (R-Hudson), prepared a motion, #513, that sought to incorporate some of the changes in the original budget proposal, while incorporating language to address some of the concerns that have been raised. The start of the meeting was delayed several hours in order to give committee members and Legislative Fiscal Bureau staff time to review the motion. The motion was approved on a 12-4 party line vote.

Here is a summary of the major changes included in the approved motion:

  • All counties must provide services through Family Care by January 1, 2017, or at a date determined by the Department of Health Services, whichever is later;
  • The Family Care benefit package will include both long-term health care services AND acute/primary health care services;
  • Family Care services will be provided by Integrated Health Agencies (IHAs). Current CMOs, including those that operate as a long-term care district, can seek to become an IHA;
  • There will be no less than five Family Care regions;
  • Each Family Care region must have multiple IHA options;
  • IHAs must provide a consumer-directed option that includes the services currently offered through the IRIS program;
  • There will be an open enrollment period for the ICAs that coincides with the open enrollment period for Medicare;
  • The rates provided to the IHAs will be set through an independent actuarial study;
  • The Department of Health Services must consult with stakeholders, including representatives of consumers and long-term care providers, and the public prior to developing its final waiver request;
  • A summary of the waiver request must be submitted to the Joint Committee on Finance for approval or disapproval without changes by April 1, 2016. If approved, the waiver would be submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for approval;
  • If the waiver request is not approved at either the state of federal level, the Family Care program will continue to operate in accordance with current statutes;
  • Long-term care advisory committees shall continue with the added responsibility of providing for review and assessment of the self-directed service option;
  • The current ADRC structure, including the ADRC governing boards, is maintained.

While the approved motion addresses some of the questions and concerns raised by disability and elderly advocates, many questions and concerns remain. The Arc-Wisconsin will continue to work closely with legislators, Department of Health Services staff, CMO staff and ADRC staff and other advocates to ensure that people receive the services they need when they need them.

NEW! "Lawmakers back some, not all, of Scott Walker's long-term care plan", JSOnline, May 27, 2015

Update: Start time for Joint Committee on Finance executive session scheduled for 10:00 am on Wednesday has been moved to 2:30 pm. Click here for updates from WisPolitics. There is a ton of behind-the-scenes activity taking place.

ACTION ALERT, May 25, 2015

Contrary to the many reports that have been spreading, the Joint Committee on Finance has yet to take any official action on the proposed changes to Family Care, IRIS and the Aging and Disability Resource Centers in the state budget. The committee is scheduled to take action on these items at their executive session on May 27th. The session will be broadcast live at 10:00 am on WisconsinEye. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has prepared several information papers to assist the committee members in their discussions. The Arc-Wisconsin urges all advocates to contact their legislators, even those that are not on the Joint Committee on Finance, and urge that they support the removal of the proposed changes to Family Care, IRIS and the Aging and Disability Resource Centers from the state budget. You can find the contact information by using the "Find My Legislators" tool in the upper right hand corner of the Wisconsin State Legislature website. Feel free to use the position statement of The Arc-Wisconsin as a guide.

Given that Governor Walker's 2015-17 biennial budget proposal includes many reforms to Family Care and IRIS that will have a significant impact on those enrolled in these programs and that there was no opportunity for discussion of those proposed reforms involving stakeholders prior to the introduction of the state budget proposal, The Arc-Wisconsin Disability Association supports removing the Family Care and IRIS reform provisions from the state budget proposal and handling them as policy issues involving separate legislation. This will ensure that any proposed reforms have a better chance of being effective by providing the opportunity to incorporate input and suggestions from people currently involved in Family Care and IRIS, as well as input from state legislators representing the people of Wisconsin.

"Surprise special needs vouchers elicit mixed responses", La Crosse Tribune, May 21, 2015

"CEO of Arc United States visits Fond du Lac", Fond du Lac Reporter, May 17, 2015

"Lawmakers to scale back Scott Walker's plan on long-term care", JSOnline, May 14, 2015




Family Care and IRIS Enrollment Data by County

The State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Emerging from the Great Recession, January, 2015

Future Planning: It's Possible and Necessary

Future planning is important for all families. Thinking about the future can be challenging and emotional. However, experience shows that adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) make a better transition from the family home when the family has planned for the future.

The Arc has created the Center for Future Planning to support and encourage adults with I/DD and their families to plan for the future. The Center's website (futureplanning.thearc.org) is the first step in achieving that goal.

The website provides reliable information and assistance to families and individuals with I/DD on areas such as person-centered planning, decision-making, housing options, financial planning, employment and daily activities, and making social connections. In addition, the website provides information to family members, friends, and professionals that support individuals with I/DD. The website also features stories of people and families who have created future plans or who are in the planning process.

Planning ahead can be difficult, but it's possible and necessary. You can learn more about the resources the Center for Future Planning provides at futureplanning.thearc.org. Please contact The Arc-Wisconsin or The Arc's national office at (202) 202-617-3268 for more help.

Informational Paper #42: Medical Assistance and Related Program, Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, January 2015


Department of Health Services 2015-17 Budget Request, September 15, 2014