Two particularly controversial topics of late have been the Governor’s proposed changes to two very popular aging and long-term care programs; Senior Care and IRIS (Include, Respect, I-Self Direct). Senior Care provides prescription drug assistance to qualifying seniors, while IRIS, as the name implies, is a self-directed, long-term care option for Medicaid eligible, elderly or disabled adults. With our burgeoning senior population, I feel the Governor’s proposed changes need to be re-evaluated in the spirit of maintaining quality care while also reducing state spending.
As a legislature, we must focus on passing proposals with plans, not just ideas. While it is unlikely that the elimination of the IRIS program from state statute will pass the muster of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, I want to be clear in my support for the continuation of this program. Direction and control over one’s own care is vitally important for individuals who wish to remain as independent as possible despite their physical or mental limitations.
While I understand the need to tighten the state’s financial belt, I am in support of continuing programs like Senior Care and IRIS so that the vital independence and quality of life supports these programs provide will continue for those who need them most. A necessary evil for Senior Care, however, may be the need to increase premiums or co-pays in order for the program to remain solvent - a compromise that I feel is fair.
I, along with my Democrat and Republican legislative colleagues, respect the unique needs of these individuals and realize the immense value these programs provide to our aging and disabled constituents. It is my goal as your state representative to serve as your voice, and to stand up for those among us that may not have a voice. Please be assured that I will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure appropriate care for all Wisconsinites - today, and for generations to come.
Rep. Jesse Kremer