State Budget Update


May 28, 2015

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We had another omnibus motion this week in the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). All of the budget motions relating to long-term care were combined into one large motion that was approved on a party-line vote late last night.

Here is a quick refresher on the issue:

Family Care, which is a Medicaid program, provides managed long-term care to disabled adults and senior citizens with the goal of keeping them in their homes and not in nursing homes. The program services 38,000 Wisconsinites. Currently regional managed-care organizations (MCOs) provide these services.



IRIS (Include, Respect, I-Self-Direct), is an alternative to managed care for people who qualify for Family Care. Consultants help enrollees create a plan and they receive a stipend to cover services. 11,500 Wisconsinites are enrolled in the program.


The Governorís budget proposal would have:

  • Requested a federal waiver to allow DHS to contract with statewide managed care organizations to provide Family Care services. It would also request to expand Family Care statewide.

  • Ended state oversight of the organizations.

  • Eliminated IRIS but allowed Family Care enrollees to self-direct their services.

  • Fundamentally changed Wisconsinís long-term care system.

Here is a run-down of what happened:

  • The JFC maintained the request for a federal waiver

  • The JFC voted to create new entities known as Integrated Health Agencies (IHAs) to replace Wisconsinís current Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) model.

  • The JFC added language to ensure that program enrollees would still have a say in developing their own care plans.

  • The JFC voted not to maintain IRIS as an independent program but rather incorporates elements of the program into other programs.

In essence, the JFC voted to go along with most of the changes proposed by the Governor. As we are currently working to better understand the implications of these changes, there is a lot of uncertainty about how these programs will operate moving forward. As I learn more details, I will be sure to pass them on to you. However, I am able to state that the affected families and caregivers I have spoken with have indicated that they are still strongly opposed to these changes and they believe that the changes will adversely affect the options that are presently available for services. The overwhelming response I have heard from people is that this is one of our most efficient and effective programs; ďIf itís not broken, donít fix it and, for goodness sake, donít break it.Ē

In addition, the JFC also took up the following issues:

Jobless Insurance Program

  • The JFC voted to increase the monetary penalty for fraud in Wisconsinís jobless insurance program.

Leasing Buildings for State Use

  • The JFC voted to require the state to look at options for leasing buildings for state use that are outside of Dane and Milwaukee Counties. A cost-benefit report would also have to be provided to highlight any possible savings.

Room Tax


  • The JFC voted to limit the amount of local room taxes that towns and cities could use for purposes other than promoting tourism. My local officials have expressed opposition to this change because it infringes upon their local control.

Workers Compensation

  • The Governor proposed overhauling Wisconsinís workerís compensation program by moving the system from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI). This proposal also included transferring Administrative Law Judges to the Department of Administration (DOA).

  • The JFC voted not to move the system to OCI but left the transfers to the DOA intact

Building Projects

  • The JFC earmarked money to several projects around the state including the Confluence Project in Eau Claire, an agriculture education center in Manitowoc County, a science lab for Carroll University, and a new chemistry building at UW Madison

The JFC will be meeting tomorrow for what will most likely be their last meeting and it is expected to be a long one. Up on the agenda are many big issues that have been ďsaved for lastĒ such as the University of Wisconsin System, transportation funding, taxes and the Department of Natural Resources.











State Representative

94th Assembly District



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