Hraychuck: Family Care Coming to Burnett & Polk Counties
FAMILY CARE COMING TO POLK & BURNETT COUNTIES
By Rep. Ann Hraychuck
Losing two nursing homes in our district in the last year was devastating to our seniors, families, employees, and communities. With shrinking federal Medicaid funds, too many nursing homes have been forced to shut their doors and too many seniors and their loved ones have been left with nowhere to turn. Fortunately, the state’s long term care program, Family Care, is due to launch in Burnett and Polk Counties next spring.
Family Care was first created in 1999 when Governor Tommy Thompson included it in his state budget proposal. At that time it was a five county pilot project designed to streamline the long term care network, reduce costs and make it possible for more seniors to access residential care services. The Family Care pilot project was so successful that Governor Jim Doyle included the statewide expansion of the program in last year’s budget.
The principle goals of family care are: providing seniors with more choices, improving access to services, maintaining high quality of care and making the entire system more cost-effective. The Department of Health Services is already hard at work expanding the program. Family Care expands to St. Croix County this month and into Burnett and Polk Counties in April of 2009.
For many seniors and health care providers in our area Family Care can’t get here soon enough. Wisconsin spends 50 percent more on Medicaid recipients than the national average and every two years our state budget spends $1.5 billion on long term care. Family Care will also prepare our state for a new wave of seniors. Over the course of the next 30 years it is estimated that the number of citizens over the age of 65 will double and the number of seniors over the age of 85 will triple.
Once Family Care is implemented all of the various benefit programs and services will be combined into one streamlined system that puts nursing homes and community care programs on equal footing. Under Family Care, eligible seniors will have the ability to design a package of services tailored to their individual needs and preferences.
Seniors and people with disabilities deserve a system that makes sense, saves money and works for them. That is why Family Care will be such an asset for the 28th Assembly District. In the months to come, I will be working with the Department of Health Services to ensure that the people in our district receive information about this important program. I encourage you to contact my office with any questions or concerns regarding this program or any other issue. My contact information is 1-888-529-0028 or Rep.Hraychuck@legis.wisconsin.gov.