Milwaukee Center for Independence loses large contract with My Choice Family Care

MCFI will lose more than 1,000 clients and their attached caregivers

The Milwaukee Center for Independence notified the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development this week that it could lay off as many as 1,062 workers on Dec. 31, however, because of the complicated way those workers are contracted to deliver care to people with disabilities in the Milwaukee area, it’s likely each of them will be immediately employed by one of the following nursing agencies: Home Care Agency, owned by TempPlus, and Anew Home Health Care Services.

The MCFI is a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that provides programs and services for children and adults with disabilities and special needs.

In a statement, MCFI representatives said the organization lost its contracts with Milwaukee-based My Choice Family Care, which represented more than 1,000 clients served by MCFI affiliate New Health Services and the MCFI case management unit.

My Choice chief executive officer Maria Ledger said it had two contracts in place with MCFI to oversee care management and supportive home care employment services. My Choice is a Family Care program, a specific type of long-term care program available through Medicaid for frail elders and people with physical or intellectual disabilities.

The way medicaid-funded home care is administered, each person who receives care has a designated “caregiver” to deliver long-term care to them for their disabilities. In many cases, those caregivers are trained family members or friends of the people receiving care, but they can also be medical professionals, such as nurses.

Though as many as 1,062 of such caregivers will no longer be employed by MCFI as of Dec. 31, their patients will remain clients of My Choice Family Care and continue receiving care through either Home Care Agency and Anew Home Health Care Services. The caregivers attached to each of those patients will be moved with them.

A third nursing agency could be contracted by My Choice to replace MCFI as soon as next week, Ledger said.

“What’s really important is that My Source and MCFI are going to work together on this transition in order to best serve these individuals,” Ledger said.

She said My Source clients will not lose their current caregivers due to the transition.

My Choice decided to terminate its contracts with MCFI because of what it called a conflict of interest. MCFI had recently decided to begin offering a separate type of self-directed long-term care program through medicaid called First Person Care Consultants independent of the services it was contracted to offer through My Source.

“MCFI strongly believes that no conflict of interest exists, and no specific instances of conflict of interest have been identified,” MCFI representatives wrote in the statement. “In fact, First Person Care Consultant clients are notified that they cannot be served by First Person and participate in any programming by MCFI or its affiliates at the same time.”

Ledger disagreed. The way long-term care programs work through medicaid, if a patient chooses one type of care program, such as Family Care offered through My Choice, that same patient becomes ineligible for other medicaid long-term care programs such the self-directed care program First Person Care.

“It doesn’t make sense to have a contract agency offering a competitive program,” Ledger said. “MCFI made a decision to diversify its business lines and that’s OK, but we want to make sure we’re sustainable. We have 8,500 people who depend on this service and a similar number of employees.”

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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