Family Care bill expected to sail through Wisconsin House

It is hard enough to deal with having a loved one, a husband or wife or parent, hurt on the job. If the injury results in a permanent disability, one of the toughest decisions you will have to make is how to ensure that your family member receives the best long-term care possible. Sadly, the question of quality is often overshadowed by the questions of cost — as helpful as disability benefits are, they seldom make up for all of the lost income.

In Wisconsin, the state developed a program that would help the disable and the elderly cover the cost of in-home care. The Family Care program provides assistance to qualifying residents in most of the state’s counties, but the last state budget cycle ended with a cap on program enrollment. As enacted, the cap was set to remain in place until June 2013.

Next week, the Wisconsin State Assembly will vote on a bill that will lift the enrollment cap, a full year ahead of schedule. And lawmakers are saying that the action has nothing to do with the federal mandate to lift the cap (or lose federal funding). Rather, it has to do with finding ways to make the program more cost-efficient.

In fact, between 2011 and now, the bill sponsor says, the state Health Department has found ways to save $80 million on the program. The savings will not translate into offering the program statewide quite yet, though — the bill includes a provision that Family Care must receive legislative approval before adding a county.

The Family Care website describes the program as a way to foster the independence and to enhance the quality of life for the elderly and people with disabilities. The description doesn’t stop there, though; it also includes a recognition of the need for interdependence and support.

Anyone who has cared for a loved one at home understands very well that it can’t be a solo act. With the cap lifted, Family Care will add much-needed resources to the chorus for many more participants.

Source:, “Vote on expanded Family Care enrollment expected,” March 6, 2012


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