The wait is over: Rock County gets Family Care

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

JANESVILLE—The wait is finally over for Rock County, and it's closer to over for the nearly 300 elderly and disabled people who still need services.

On Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker, surrounding by Rock County Board members, elected officials and others, signed Family Care into law for Rock County at the Rock County Courthouse.

People who expected to wait nine or more years for service now will have to wait no more than three.

Walker told the gathered crowd that he was pleased to be signing the bill that would offer “cost effective and quality” care for people with developmental disabilities and those who need long-term care.

Rock County has been on the brink of Family Care for more than eight years but has been postponed for one reason or another.

Most of the rest of the state has already implemented Family Care, a program that provides services for the frail elderly and adults with developmental or physical disabilities.

How will things be different under Family Care?

The managed care organizations that will be delivering services under Family Care are required by law to eliminate waiting lists within 36 months.

Employment, housing and other services for adults with developmental disabilities are now provided through the Rock County Developmental Disabilities Board. Services are paid for with federal Medicaid waivers and about $4 million in local tax dollars.

For example, a person with a developmental disability might need a place to live and a place to work.

The developmental disabilities board contracts with providers such as Kandu Industries, which has segregated workshops were people with disabilities can work to their own level. Kandu also trains people for jobs in the community.

The person might find a job there.

The board might also contract with an organization such as REM or Lutheran Social Services for a supervised place to live.

Each individual client's needs are considered.

However, the developmental disabilities board has a limited amount of money to spend and has a waiting list of about 250 people. The waiting list is about nine years long.

It's difficult for the board to predict when a person will come off the list. Sometimes, emergencies come up, and the board has to provide immediate housing for someone.

Long term care, which helps older people stay in their homes as long as possible, has a waiting list of 39.

Under Family Care, the state will contract with one or more managed care organizations to decide what services people need and then contract them out.

The same companies, such as Kandu or REM, will be providing the care, but they will be dealing with the managed care organization instead of the county. 

The managed care organizations use money from federal Medicaid waivers and the state to cover costs. For the first five years of operation, the county will pay the state a stipend for taking over the business. The first year that amount is expected to be $3.6 million. It will decline each year after that.

When Family Care was first proposed in Rock County, opponents expressed concerns that people getting services will see those services decreased.

At a meeting in May 2014, Care Wisconsin, a managed care organization described it as going from “Cadillac services” under the county, to “Chevy services” under managed care.

Developmental Disabilities Board Director John Hanewall responded that none of his clients got “Cadillac services.” Instead, they got the services they needed.

The establishment of Family Care also means the loss of county positions. The long term support division and the developmental disabilities board employ 31 people, according to 2016 county budget documents.

Some of those positions will remain. Family Care will be implemented over two to three years, Human Services Director Charmain Klyve said in a previous interview.

During that time, the county will “work to make sure workers have an opportunity to consider open positions with the department and the county,” Klyve said at the time.

Last updated: 6:07 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2016

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