Republican Co-Chair Seeks Answers on Family Care, IRIS, Dems Ask That LTC Language Be Pulled From Budget
From Forbes McIntosh, Government Policy Solutions, WALA Lobbyist
The state’s Joint Finance Committee last Thursday wrapped up its public hearings to take input about Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2015-17 budget. The committee held hearings in four communities over the past two weeks and heard from about 1,000 people on numerous budget topics, predominantly about the governor’s proposed changes to the state’s long-term care programs and K-12 education funding.
During the final public hearing on Thursday in Reedsburg, Teri Buros of the managed care organization ContinuUs said that if the proposed changes to the state’s long-term care system are approved by the Joint Finance Committee and Legislature, the system will not be dismantled in January 2017 as the budget language states but rather upon the governor’s signature. Buros, who is also a member of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Wisconsin Long Term Care Advisory Council, said that MCO employees will begin looking for jobs immediately, not in 2017, and the current system will not remain intact for 18 months until official implementation. The proposed changes are also putting LTC providers in a place of uncertainty about their financial future. Buros said it has taken the state’s LTC providers and clients many years to build the existing system and she asked that Joint Finance remove the governor’s budget language relating to Family Care, Include Respect I Self-Direct (IRIS) and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs).
Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), the Joint Finance Committee co-chair, was quoted on the provisions dealing with Family Care and IRIS during a Wisconsin Public Radio interview on Monday, “Going throughout the next few weeks, we’re going to look for more answers. And if we don’t feel comfortable with the answers we get, I don’t see that proposal being approved.”
Meanwhile, Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee this week asked the committee co-chairs to pull from the budget the governor’s proposed changes to Family Care, IRIS and SeniorCare.
The committee is expected to begin holding executive sessions (votes) on the 2015-17 budget in early April, with final passage expected to be completed by the end of May.