Links: Read letter to Senator Darling and Representative Vos
Read letter from Edwards to Davis
Read update on Family Care
May 8, 2012
Walker jeopardizing federal Family Care funding as May 14 deadline looms
Democrats on budget panel call for governor’s top health official to testify this week
MADISON—Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has until May 14 to get the Family Care program into compliance with federal rules, otherwise federal funding for the program may be in jeopardy, according to a letter sent over five weeks ago to a top Walker aide.
Democrats on the legislature’s budget committee are demanding to know why Walker kept lawmakers in the dark about this serious warning that could threaten the popular in-home care program for seniors and people with disabilities if left ignored.
Today they sent the attached letter to the co-chairs of the committee asking them to schedule a public hearing this week to provide the head of Walker’s health department the opportunity to testify and answer questions on the status of Family Care and the state’s compliance with all applicable federal rules.
Last summer Walker and legislative Republicans capped Family Care enrollment without permission from the federal government. The enrollment cap was finally lifted April 3, but in a letter dated March 28 federal officials directed DHS to comply with other specified conditions by May 14, or risk jeopardizing federal funds for Family Care. The conditions include notifying beneficiaries that the enrollment cap was lifted, identifying those that should have been receiving services, and informing everyone impacted by the cap of the possibility of reimbursement and developing a process for determining eligible reimbursements.
“Having always supported Family Care, we are deeply concerned that the (Walker) administration’s failure to comply with federal rules may compromise a successful program that helps keep seniors and people with disabilities out of nursing homes,” wrote Democrats. “Given the importance of the Family Care program to tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents and their families, and the potential risk of losing federal funds, it is imperative that Secretary Smith come before the Joint Finance Committee and answer questions publicly as soon as possible.”
On April 17, Walker’s health department sent the budget committee an update on Family Care, but never mentioned the noncompliance concerns, the May 14 deadline or the possibility that federal matching funds may be in jeopardy. The state received $897 million from the federal government to operate Family Care in Fiscal Year 2011, according to the most current numbers available.