March 11, 2008

 

LITE-House Act to cut State Costs, Increase Medicaid Dollars


Taylor urges Assembly passage without amendments after positive fiscal estimate

MADISON—Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) today urged the State Assembly to pass SB 403, the LITE-House Act, without amendment, after receiving a positive fiscal estimate from the Department of Health and Family Services.  The estimate, using conservative assumptions, indicates that SB 403 will reduce state and local costs, thereby making $3 million available for long-term care programs under Medicaid.

“This is great news for long-term care facilities with patients on Medicaid and for the State of Wisconsin as a whole,” exclaimed Taylor.  “The LITE-House Act will not only assure a property tax exemption for benevolent low-income housing groups, it will expand our ability to serve a population desperately in need of help.  Hopefully, this will breathe more zeal into passage of the bill by the Assembly!”

The fiscal estimate from the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) indicates that the cost savings will be realized in two instances—in cases where long-term care participants live in religiously- or benevolently-owned housing and for those persons in the Family Care program.  The estimate goes to great length in plain language to calculate and explain the cost savings and increased monies for the Medicaid program.  DHFS also notes that local county costs will be reduced indirectly under the Community Options Programs (COP) and the Medicaid home and community-based (HBC) programs.  These programs generally are supported by local tax revenue.

“It’s rare that a bill comes before the Legislature to reduce state costs, reduce local costs, increase Medicaid dollars, and offer local tax relief,” Taylor noted. “When that opportunity comes around, we owe it to the people of Wisconsin to take advantage of it.  Especially in the light of the impending budget repair special session, any bill to reduce costs—much less provide improved programming—is timely and, really, a no-brainer.”

Following release of the fiscal estimate, Taylor sent an e-mail to all Assembly members, asking them to pass the bill without amendment.  Amendments to expand the scope of the bill will have a negative impact on the financial savings for the state.  Assembly author and Speaker Pro-Tempore Representative Mark Gottlieb (R-Port Washington) indicated a need for bi-partisan support to pass the bill in a press release last week.  Assembly Democratic Leader, Rep. Jim Kreuser (D-Kenosha) indicated his support for the bill following the release.

“This bill has a strong bi-partisan history,” said Taylor. “Rep. Gottlieb is a capable floor manager and I’m confident that, on Tuesday, he’ll help protect the state financially and get the bill passed, as is.  I look forward to Assembly members of both parties coming together to get this bill to the governor’s desk.”