State officials said the delay is necessary to allow the state and contracted organizations to recoup human and financial resources after "significant" expansion of the program in the last two years, according to a news release from County Administrator Craig Knutson.

The state has had such an aggressive startup process and so many counties have gone live that more time is needed to free up state staff to help Rock County transition to Family Care, Knutson said.

Funding for Rock County's Family Care transition is included in the current state budget and will be included in the 2011-13 biennial budget proposal, the release states.

Family Care is a state-mandated program that changes the way some health services are funded. It is an alternative to Medicaid waiver programs for people who need long-term care including the frail elderly, and people with developmental or physical disabilities.

With Family Care, the state contracts with managed care organizations to provide the services. That takes the responsibility away from counties that have traditionally managed the programs using state, federal and local money.

The program is intended to streamline services. By carefully managing individual services, the state expects to save money and eliminate waiting lists.

The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau in July was authorized to audit the program. The results are expected to be ready this winter.

So far, 55 of Wisconsin's 72 counties have transitioned to Family Care since the program was created in 1998.

Rock County had been scheduled to implement Family Care this summer. But in early 2009, the county asked for a delay.

The state agreed but has since told Rock County that the wait is over and that waiver programs will be taken away. That left the county with no option than to switch to Family Care in mid-2011, Knutson has said.

Not anymore.

While the county's transition to the program has been delayed, the timeline has not changed for developing an aging and disability resource center. Such a center is key to the Family Care transition.

In July, Rock County created a committee to plan for the center. The county had planned to open the center in April and go live with Family Care in June.

Now, the center could open in November, and the county could join Family Care in January 2012.

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