Long-term Care Reforms on Hold

After no action by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) to approve the Family Care/IRIS 2.0 concept paper, Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Kitty Rhodes withdrew the concept paper from the committee’s purview. In her letter, Secretary Rhodes stated that given JFC has not convened to act on the proposal and may not do so for several months, DHS is withdrawing the plan, but remains committed to the goal of integrated, outcome-based long-term care.

Gov. Walker sees a long-term care redesign as a necessary step for sustainability in the Family Care/IRIS program.  The administration believes this new model will result in better health outcomes for the people who need long-term care services at a benefit to the taxpayers.

In her press release, JFC Co-Chair Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) acknowledged the program is not sustainable in its current form. However, Darling went on to state that the current program is very popular and important. The decision to not take up the concept paper was ultimately due to the JFC Senate Republicans’ lingering concerns about the program’s transition.

Meanwhile, in his press release, JFC Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) stated that he believes Wisconsin is missing an important opportunity to implement reform and bolster sustainability for health care for Wisconsin’s elderly and disabled.

With the withdrawal of the concept paper from JFC, it is premature to predict what the administration will do to move forward with reform. The 2015-17 budget prohibits DHS from submitting a waiver to the federal government without JFC approval of the concept paper. Given this stipulation, Gov. Walker and DHS are considering their next steps.