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Department of Health Services Responds to Survival Coalition

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 10:35
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has responded to a letter sent by the Survival Coalition in regards to the 2015-2017 budget proposal's effect on Family Care and IRIS programs.

The department responded to the coalition's concerns on Aug. 25th that describes a three-point response.

1. Eight future Town Hall meetings where stakeholders from the community can voice their opinions. Each Town Hall is expected to take place in September, but exact dates, times, and locations are yet to be determined. This information will be posted here as soon as it is made available.

2. The department will be seeking the council of the following organizations:
  • Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 
  • Council on Mental Health 
  • Council on Physical Disabilities
  • State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (SCAODA) 
  • Governor's Committee for People with Disabilities 
  • Board on Aging and Long Term Care 
3. The department will be soliciting written testimony from stakeholder organizations as well as from the general public, program members and participants, advocates, and stakeholders during a public comment period, which will be announced in the near future.  
The full letter can be found on the Survival Coalition website

Appeals Court Reinstates Wage Rules for Home Care Workers

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:33

According to The Associated Press, a federal appeals court has reinstated rules providing overtime and minimum wage to home care workers.The ruling will guarantee overtime and minimum wage protection for close to 2 million health care workers. Since 1974, federal law excluded home care workers hired through third-party staffing agencies from wage and overtime requirements. The U.S. Court of Appeals for DC now states that the Labor Department has the authority to interpret the law in a way that changes this exemption.Dramatic changes in the nature of long term care -- specifically a transition from nursing homes to home health care -- was sited as one reason for the change. Full Story: Sam Hananel, The Associated Press via ABC News

Contribute to BPDD State Plan 2017-2021

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 08:21
The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) is submitting the State Plan for 2017-2021. The plan will focus on systems change that will improve the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities in the state.

To develop the plan, BPDD is gathering information for the public online as well as in person. Contributions can be made remotely via an online survey or in person.

For those interested in participating in an in-person conversation, several Conversation Cafes are being held in which members from the community can provide their input. Dates and location for each cafe as well as links to register for each cafe can be found on the BPDD website

Conversation Cafe Flyer

Previous BPDD State Plans: 

Support Growing for RAISE Family Caregivers Act

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 08:59
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin announced Tuesday that bipartisan support is growing for the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act.

This federal act, introduced by Senator Baldwin, would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a National Family Caregiving Project to develop and sustain a national strategy to support family caregivers. Senator Baldwin stated that she was particularly proud of the widespread support the act has seen in Wisconsin as well as nationally as more than 50 national and state advocacy groups have shown support.

Local organizations that have shown support for the bill include the Alzheimer's and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin, the Alzheimer's Association Wisconsin Chapters, the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, and the Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network (WAAN).

It is currently estimated that there are 40 million family caregivers in the United States who provide an estimated $470 billion worth of long-term care. As the number of aging individuals in the US continues to grow, this act will provide much needed support.

Senator Baldwin: Support Continues to Grow for Baldwin's Bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act

Speaker's Task Force on Alzheimer's and Dementia

Tue, 08/11/2015 - 14:32

Speaker Vos has announced three bipartisan task forces, one of which focuses on Alzheimer’s and dementia.  An excerpt from the announcement on the Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia is below.  To see the whole press release click here.
Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, roughly 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, with two-thirds of those being women. It’s reportedly the 6th leading cause of death in our country and the only one in the top ten that can’t be prevented, slowed or cured. With the increasing population of older adults and increasing cost of care, this task force will determine ways to ensure future quality of care while bending the cost curve of long-term care downward. The task force members also will look to improve and promote community-based resources and raise awareness, as well as address legal issues and determine possible state participation in treatment and research.
Members of Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah), Chair Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), Vice Chair Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) Rep. John Jagler (R-Watertown) Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma) Rep. Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) Rep. Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield) Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee) Minority Appointment

2015-17 State Budget Makes Major Changes to Long-Term Care

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 14:49

Governor Walker introduced his 2015-17 state budget on February 3. The Legislature’s powerful budget writing committee is currently voting on the budget, and has already approved major changes that impact the personal care industry.  They are:
Personal Care:
  • An independent assessment will be required for personal care services. The third-party in charge of conducting the assessment will also complete the care plan. The state projects that this change will result in a $27 million savings/cut to personal care over the next two years. DHS indicates that they will be issuing an RFP for a third-party entity to conduct the independent assessment once the budget is officially signed into law
  • No increase for the Medicaid Personal Care Reimbursement Rate.

Creation of the Division of Medicaid Services·         The Division of Health Care Access and Accountability and the Division of Long-term Care will merge to create the Division of Medicaid Services. The Joint Finance Committee approved the merger and adopted a motion that would delete a long-term vacancy as well as the Division of Long-term Care Administrator, effective June 30, 2017.
Family Care:
  • All of the Governor’s proposed changes to Family Care, IRIS and ADRCs are removed from the budget bill
  • DHS is instead required to submit a new plan to CMS for changes to the state’s Family Care and IRIS waivers.
  • Expand Family Care statewide by January 1, 2017 or a date determined by the Department through the waiver request
  • The waiver will include:
    • Integration of long-term care with acute and primary care, including Medicare services (to the extent allowable under federal law)
    • The new integrated benefit will be provided by new entities called Integrated Health Agencies (IHAs). The self-direction option will be provided under IHAs as well.
    • New geographic services regions will be created from the IHAs. There must be at least 5 (there are currently 12 service regions for MCOs). Each region will have multiple IHAs.
    •  Provider audits to improve accountability in the provision of services
    • An open enrollment period that coincides with the open enrollment period for Medicare
    • Rates paid to IHAs will be set by an independent actuary
  • The Joint Finance Committee’s motion requires DHS to consult with stakeholders prior to developing the final waiver request.
  • DHS must submit their proposed plan to the Joint Finance Committee for approval or disapproval no later than April 1, 2016. If approved by JFC, DHS can submit the waiver to CMS.
  • DHS will include any necessary statutory changes related to the approved waiver in its 2017-19 budget request.
  • Long-term Care Districts will be permitted to operate as a Health Maintenance Organization.
  • Any willing provider will continue for at least three years. After which, it may be phased out.
IRIS:·         Self-direction will be defined in statute and provided by the new IHAs.
Aging and Disability Resource Centers:·         ADRCs are maintained in their current form. However, there will be a study of the functional screen and options counseling to ensure reliability and consistency across ADRCs. There will also be a study of the integration of income maintenance consortia and ADRCs.
Children’s COP:  The Governor’s proposal to create a Children’s COP program is approved. Private, non-profit agencies will be permitted to operate Children’s COP.
Dementia Care Specialists:  Funding for 12 grants to support Dementia Care Specialists is approved.
MA Reimbursement for Nursing Homes:  Nursing homes receive a 1% acuity increase. DHS will also be required to study labor regions, and to propose changes to the current methodology.
Transfer Prior Authorization Staff from the Office of the Inspector General to the Division of Medicaid Services:  Transfer 2.75 positions from OIG to the new Division of Medicaid Services by March 31, 2016. 
BadgerCare Plus coverage for childless adults: DHS will submit a waiver to the federal government to implement several changes to BadgerCare Plus eligibility for childless adults, including: a 48 month enrollment cap, monthly premiums and a requirement to undergo a yearly health assessment. The Committee voted to also require drug screening and testing for childless adults applying for BadgerCare. 
Fraud Prevention: The Committee voted to provide $5 million in 2015-16 for the procurement and implementation of an advanced analytics system for the purpose of minimizing provider and beneficiary fraud in the state’s medical assistance program, for the purposes of verifying the identification of Medicaid and Medicare claimants prior to utilization of services.