U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, joined by Congressman Ron Kind and Congresswoman Gwen Moore, today called on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to follow the law and lift the enrollment cap his administration placed on Family Care.
The letter sent today to the Governor points out that, on December 13, 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) informed state officials that the enrollment cap instituted in July 2011 violated the conditions of the state's agreement with CMS to run the Family Care program. On December 28, 2011, Walker announced plans to comply with CMS's request to lift the cap.
While the State Legislature has scheduled its first hearing on legislation on repealing the enrollment cap, there is still no timetable on compliance.
Family Care, which is financed with federal and state Medicaid dollars, provides home- and community-based services and support for seniors and people with disabilities. The program has been a leader among states in providing excellent, person-centered health care, expanding capacity for community-based housing and services, creating jobs, and saving taxpayer dollars.
"We urge Gov. Walker to move quickly on ending the enrollment cap and the uncertainty that it poses for thousands of Wisconsin families who need and deserve Family Care services, but are not getting them," Kohl said. "Family Care has proven itself to be a valuable, popular, and cost-effective program and it deserves to be preserved and carefully protected," he added.
Baldwin said, "It is illegal for the cap on Family Care enrollment to remain in place. It is immoral to force Wisconsinites into expensive nursing homes when they could be better off staying in their own homes and communities. And it is fiscally irresponsible to use taxpayers' dollars to subsidize the huge expense of nursing home care when less expensive services and support may not simply suffice, but actually improve outcomes. So, it is imperative legally, morally, and economically, that Gov. Walker fulfills his pledge to lift the cap. I call on the Governor to ensure that the cap is lifted immediately."
According to a Wisconsin Department of Human Services (DHS) estimate, the waitlist for Family Care-related services increased from 5,049 in July, 2011 to 6,740 at the end of November, 2011, leaving an additional 1,691 Wisconsinites without access to Family Care's supports and services. Additionally, should the enrollment cap be lifted, DHS estimates that approximately 10,000 Wisconsinites would be eligible for this vital program between February 2012 and June 2013.
According to the state's Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin could stand to lose $1.75 billion in federal Medicaid funding from 2011 through 2013 should the state fail to come into compliance with federal requirements.