County board approves Family Care

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Catherine W. Idzerda
July 11, 2014

JANESVILLE—Rock County is officially ready for Family Care.

On Thursday, the Rock County Board voted unanimously to support a transition to Family Care.

Family care is a program that provides services for the frail elderly and adults with developmental or physical disabilities who need long-term care.

Those services are now provided through the county and paid for with federal Medicaid waivers. The Rock County Developmental Disabilities Board and county's Long Term Support Programs contract out the care.

In Rock County, $4 million of local tax money supplements the federal money.

Under Family Care, the wavier money goes to managed care organizations that contract out services including places to live, places to work and day programming.

For the 250 people in Rock County who are on waiting lists ranging from eight to 10 years, the vote is good news.

Under law, managed care providers are required to eliminate waiting lists for services within the first 36 months of operation.

 “Getting rid of that waiting list is going to be a weight off of families,” Supervisor Louis Peer said.

Most of the people on the waiting list have developmental or physical disabilities and live at home.

Out of Wisconsin's 72 counties, 64 have Family Care programs in place or are transitioning to it.

Rock County has been in discussions with the state for more than eight years regarding the transition.

In 2011, the county was prepared to go to Family Care, but was put off. For a time, it was unclear if the program was going to be expanded to any more counties.

Then the county was told it needed to create an Aging and Disability Resource Center. That opened in early 2013.

On Thursday, Margaret Kristan, state director of the office of Family Care expansion, said the state would decide when to seek bids from managed care organizations.  Those bids will then have to be approved by the joint committee on finance.

In an interview before the meeting, Human Services Director Charmian Klyve said the timeline for implementation was up to the state.

However, it's possible that it would be taken up during budget discussions for the next biennium, she said.

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