Leave IRIS Alone
Eliminating today's IRIS and moving to a medical managed care model is wrong for Wisconsin's Elderly and Disabled. The IRIS Program allows for self-directed long-term supports. The program is an option for adults with long term care needs. People who are eligible have the choice of IRIS or managed care through their local Aging and Disability Resource Center. A highly successful program for self-directed care for those with developmental and physical disabilities who may otherwise be in a nursing home setting, IRIS was enacted to keep people in their homes with lower cost care. IRIS is eliminated in the budget and those currently enrolled in the program will move into a managed care system under Family Care. There are 40,000 people in Family Care and 11,000 in the IRIS program.  We need them and we need their families to reach out and tell Legislators, and the members of the Joint Finance Committee that this is a bad idea; and if it's not broken, we should leave it alone.

IRIS stands for:  INCLUDE – Wisconsin’s frail elders, adults with physical disabilities and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities with long term care needs who are Medicaid eligible are included and stay connected to their communities. RESPECT – Participants choose their living setting, their relationships, their work, and their participation in the community. I SELF-DIRECT – IRIS is a self-directed long term care option. The participant manages an Individual Services and Supports Plan within an individual budget and the guidelines of allowable supports and services to meet his or her long term care needs. The participant has the flexibility to design a cost-effective and personal plan.
 
IRIS is truly a national model and the future of caring for adults with long-term needs in a self-directed, cost-effective way. To shift individuals who have successfully settled into the IRIS program into a managed care option which could potentially change their doctors and caregivers is a poor decision and will not save taxpayer money.  Individuals that have long term needs have grown to thrive in a self-directed plan. Shifting gears for these individuals and their families and care system is the wrong answer. It is unclear why the Governor has changed his position, without any input from those most affected, on one of the strongest policy initiatives his administration created – however that is what is happening. This week in the Joint Finance Committee, Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades shared little insight into the changes and even less vision for what individuals with long term needs will have to expect in the coming months. I will work with my colleagues on the Joint Committee on Finance to try to restore the IRIS program. Here is a link to the IRIS program description:https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/iris/index.htm
Save IRIS coalition press release: http://www.thewheelerreport.com/wheeler_docs/files/0216iris.pdf

For additional information contact my office at 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027 or via email atsen.erpenbach@legis.wi.gov