The state of Wisconsin is facing a projected $5.4 billion budget deficit. So plans to expand Family Care, the state's new long-term care program for the elderly and disabled, may be put on hold.
The state Department of Health Services did not include funding for Family Care expansion in its 2010-11 budget. Instead, the department asked only for funding to continue running Family Care in the 25 counties where it's already been started. Stephanie Marquis, department spokeswoman, says Gov. Jim Doyle will decide on expansion plans.
"They're still working on a budget and looking at all the options," says Marquis. "Obviously these are difficult budget times. Literally everything's on the table right now."
Lynn Green, head of Dane County's Human Services Department, says the state had originally planned to have Family Care in all 72 counties by the end of 2011. But she doubts that will happen.
"Clearly, it's not a given that they can expand at the rate they were intending to," says Green, noting the high start-up costs for the program, which includes a resource center and the elimination of all waiting lists.
Dane County still has not heard whether it will get Family Care in 2010, as planned. "We have not had any word from the state," says Green. The county, which must decide if it will run Family Care or opt out, will continue its research into different Family Care models.
"We've decided we don't want to slow down the pace," says Green. "We want to have an informed recommendation as soon as they're ready."
Kim Turner, head of Options in Community Living in Madison, says it's "hard to imagine" the state will have enough funding to begin Family Care in more counties next year. "Unless they are really convinced managed care is the way, in the longer run, to save money," she says. "I maintain there is no evidence of that yet."