FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 22, 2012
For more information, contact: Rep. Mark Pocan, 608-266-8570 or Rep. Andy Jorgensen, 608-266-3790
Walker continues evasiveness on SeniorCare waiver
2 Democrats reveal Aug. 31 deadline to extend program
MADISON – Two Assembly Democrats who led the effort to preserve SeniorCare from budget cuts under Governor Walker today called on Governor Scott Walker to explain his apparent disregard for a federal deadline to extend Wisconsin’s highly popular SeniorCare program. State Representatives Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Andy Jorgensen (D-Fort Atkinson) today sent a follow-up letter to Governor Walker urging him to apply for the waiver after their first letter went unanswered for over two weeks.
More than five months ago, Dennis G. Smith, Walker’s Secretary of the Department of Health Services indicated in writing that Wisconsin plans to request the extension, but the official request has not occurred yet.
“SeniorCare is a lifesaver for our elders, quite literally. Governor Walker’s silence on his intentions on SeniorCare speaks volumes,” Jorgensen said. “As Walker looks seniors in the eye and asks for their support, I’ll bet he never once apologizes for procrastinating on applying for the SeniorCare waiver.”
Walker’s inconsistent commitment to SeniorCare traces back to a Feb. 9, 2011 Associated Press (AP) story that quotes Walker stating, “We will not be cutting SeniorCare benefits.” However, Democrats were forced to lead a statewide effort with their colleagues to collect 14,000 signatures in support of SeniorCare after Governor Walker’s original budget proposed a $15 million cut to SeniorCare less than one month later.
“Governor Walker has a lackluster record of supporting SeniorCare,” Pocan said, alluding to Walker’s pledge not to cut SeniorCare, which he then attempted to cut just weeks later. “It is lack of support for popular programs like SeniorCare that gives politicians a bad reputation.”
Worse yet, the administration’s unclear support continued into the fall when, on November 30, 2011, the Area Agency on Aging of Dane County sent a letter to Governor Walker informing him of their concerns about his administration’s tenuous support for SeniorCare. In the letter, the agency expressed concerns over an “evasive answer” made by the Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary, which “raised a red flag” for the agency with regards to the future of SeniorCare.
On December 1, 2011, Pocan sent a letter to the Governor asking him to not to delay in applying for the waiver. Walker’s Health Services Secretary, Dennis G. Smith, later pledged in writing on December 8, 2011, to apply for the waiver. Wisconsin’s current waiver for the popular senior prescription drug program is set to expire on December 31, 2012 if Wisconsin doesn’t meet the August 31, 2012 waiver application deadline.
SeniorCare covers 90,000 Wisconsin seniors, 61,000 of whom are enrolled in the waiver program.