Public Meeting about Cuts to Vital Services for People with Disabilities
Concerned citizens invited to attend a meeting about the Family Care program Sept. 18 in Portage
Portage, Wis. – Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens are experiencing disruptions in their services due to budget cutting measures by some of the managed care organizations that administer the Family Care program, the state’s long-term care services for people with disabilities and the frail elderly.
A free public forum will be held 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tues., Sept. 18, 2012 at the VFW 215 W. Collins St., Portage, Wis., for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), families, guardians, service providers, educators, and advocates to learn more, voice their experiences, and understand their rights to challenge the changes that will result from these cuts.
“While we appreciate efforts made by legislators and the Ombudsmen program, families, guardians, and our communities must learn how to fight for our loved ones. No one will hold your hand,” said Wayne Jessen, a father and advocate for his son Travis, who receives Family Care services.
Some of the managed care organizations (MCOs) with which the Department of Health Services (DHS) has contracts to deliver Medicaid services are pursuing cost efficiencies that are threatening job training and employment programs, residential and transportation services, and the safety, independence, and quality of life for Wisconsin citizens with disabilities. Others may follow, if MCOs are not funded properly.
A class action lawsuit was filed Aug. 21, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin against the DHS, DHS Secretary Dennis Smith, and three managed care organizations in the program, Care Wisconsin, Community Health Partnership (CHP), and Northern Bridges, alleging discrimination against people with developmental disabilities. CHP recently announced it will close at the end of 2012, due to financial issues.
“This is the fourth Family Care Advocacy Forum held this year. The main goal of the meeting is to provide people with the information they need to become good advocates for these services. We also want to give those who care about strong community services a chance to voice their concerns,” said Thomas Cook, executive director, Rehabilitation for Wisconsin in Action (RFW in Action), one of the event organizers.
The Residential Services Association of Wisconsin, RFW in Action, and Renewal Unlimited, Inc. are co-sponsors of the meeting. The meeting was organized by the Wisconsin A-Team-Portage, an emerging grassroots advocacy group of people with I/DD, parents, guardians, business leaders, educators, and other community supporters of people with disabilities. Forum speakers include Thomas Cook and disability law attorney Rock Pledl, Pledl & Cohn.