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New committee to meet, discuss Family Care for Rock County

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ANN MARIE AMES
July 31, 2010
— Next week, Rock County will take one more step in the long transition into Family Care.

A newly created 15-member steering committee will meet to learn about the state-mandated program. In the next few months, the committee will work with county staff to create a plan for an aging and disability resource center.


The state requires such a center to operate for at least 60 days before a county can transition into Family Care. County officials expect to open the center in April and be ready to move forward with Family Care in June.


Family Care is a state-mandated program that provides managed care for people who depend on public support, including people with disabilities and the frail elderly.


The services are provided by the county using county, federal and state money. When Family Care is implemented, the state would contract with a managed care organization that in turn will contract with individual service providers to work with clients.


Essentially, the state is taking care management away from the county and putting that burden on a private organization.


“It’s like an HMO for long-term care,” Rock County Administrator Craig Knutson said.


Rock County will be one of the last counties in the state to transition to Family Care. The county was supposed to make the move in 2010 but asked for a delay.


Family Care promises to eliminate waiting lists for services, said Assistant Administrator Phil Boutwell. It would do so by contracting for services in bulk, consolidating services for some people and making sure people get only the services they need, state officials have said. It will replace medical assistance waiver programs for adults.


Before the county makes the switch, it must apply for and open an aging and disability resource center.


Such a center would operate as a resource for many people who seek services that now are provided by the county’s developmental disabilities board or human services board, Boutwell said.


The state has strict guidelines about how such centers operate, Knutson said. He described the centers as “a kind of franchise with the state.”


The steering committee will work with county staff and use state guidelines to decide how the center could be staffed, where it would go and how it would function.


The center is not an option, Knutson said.


“We’ve been told by the state that Family Care is coming to Rock County whether or not the county participates,” Knutson said. “The county has a choice of participating by running an aging and disability resource center.”


Many people have questioned what will happen to the county workers and boards that oversee the programs. Staffing will be a big piece of the puzzle, Boutwell said.


While the funding source for the work will change, the work itself won’t, Boutwell said. So jobs could be available with the service providers who are contracted by the managed care organization or in the aging and disability resource center, he said.


IF YOU GO

What: First meeting of the Rock County Aging and Disability Resource Center Steering Committee


When: 3 p.m. Wednesday


Where: Rock County Job Center, 1900 Center Ave., Janesville, Room D/E.



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