Health care was the predominant topic among the public who addressed the Joint Finance Committee, with many of the morning speakers asking committee members to preserve the state’s Family Care and IRIS programs. “What happened in this budget was a cataclysmic blow to all of us,” said Stephanie Sue Stein of the Milwaukee County Department on Aging who is also a member of the Department of Health Services Wisconsin Long Term Care Advisory Council.
Stein said the Joint Finance Committee should not allow the governor or his administration to refer to the new long-term care programs in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2015-17 state budget as “Family Care” or “Family Care 2.0.” “It is insurance, period,” she said. “That what it is. Family Care is ADRCs (Aging and Disability Resource Centers), regional managed care organizations, IRIS and Partnership. It is not for-profit health care insurance companies.”
In addition to the expansion of Family Care to all 72 counties in the state, Walker’s proposed budget also calls for statewide (not regional) managed care organizations for Family Care that would be required to provide comprehensive, integrated health care – long-term care, primary care, behavioral health care and acute care.
Several LTC consumers expressed concern about what the elimination of IRIS in its current form will mean for them or their families.
One IRIS recipient said there is a big difference between self-directed long-term care services and having services overseen by a managed care organization (MCO). She said she is afraid losing self-directed care will make her care services less flexible in scheduled delivery and cause her to lose her job.
Barbara Beckert, the Milwaukee office director for Disability Rights of Wisconsin, also asked the committee to remove the Family Care and IRIS changes from the state budget.
Due to the number of people who wished to address the committee today, the Joint Finance Committee extended the hearing until 8:45 p.m. tonight.
Some other budget topics brought up so far at today’s hearing:
- UW System funding
- Treatment and Diversion programs
- School choice funding
- Cuts in per-pupil aids to public schools
- Substance abuse prevention
- Tobacco prevention and control program
- Milwaukee sports arena funding
- Mental health services funding
- Support for midwife services covered under BadgerCare
- Transportation funding
- Sexual assault victim services grant funding