Advocates oppose state cuts for seniors and people with disabilities

Appointed representatives of older adults, people with disabilities and people with mental health issues and/or substance abuse issues are rallying opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to dismantle Wisconsin’s long-term care system.

The current 2015-2017 state budget proposal includes a plan to contract with for-profit private insurance companies for long-term care services.

Under the proposal:
* Services providing by the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) will be privatized and seniors and people with disabilities will no longer have access to “one-stop-shops” for information and assistance.
* People will lose choice of their long-term care and their health care providers.
* All ADRC boards and long-term care councils would be eliminated, meaning no local oversight of the programs.

In addition to appointed board members, nearly 100 people who oppose the long-term care changes participated in a joint meeting of Milwaukee County’s Commission on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Center Governing Board, Combined Community Services Board, Family Care Board, Aging Resource Center Oversight Committee, Disability Resource Center Oversight Committee and Commission for Persons with Disabilities. During the meeting, board members voted unanimously to oppose the plan.

In a letter to legislators, the combined groups said, “The proposed overhaul of the program is not something that consumers asked for, nor did advocates, the Department of Health Services, legislators, nor the providers. It leaves us wondering if the insurance lobbyists who stand to profit from the proposed changes are driving this proposal.”

In addition to sending a letter to members of the State’s Joint Finance Committee and voicing their concerns during Disability Advocacy Day earlier this week, members of each of the opposing groups plan to testify during a public hearing being held Friday, March 20, 2015 at Alverno College.

“Our goal is to get as many seniors and people with disabilities to the hearing as possible. We want to ensure our voices are heard. We will not lose,” said Tiffany Payne, a long-term care consumer.

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