By Zach Wisniewski
Here’s Democratic State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout’s latest newsletter discussing the changes to Family Care and IRIS proposed by Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial state budget.
“You have got to be kidding!”
Advocate Respond to Privatizing Family Care and IRIS“You have got to be kidding!” a Chippewa Valley advocate responded when I told her about a plan to potentially turn Family Care over to a for-profit insurance company.
Family Care and its fee-for-service sister, IRIS, provide thousands of Medicaid-eligible frail elderly and disabled people the help they need to remain in their homes. Services could include help getting places; keeping a job; managing money; preparing meals; keeping healthy; bathing and dressing.
People who benefit from Family Care or IRIS might easily end up in an expensive institution. Personal care and other workers help them stay in their own home – and many times – stay gainfully employed.
If the current version of the governor’s budget becomes law, it will mean big changes to care for frail elderly and disabled people of modest means. For the rest of us, it could mean many more of our neighbors and family members end up in expensive institutions. Worse yet, folks could be stranded at home without the services they need to independently live and work.
Buried in the mammoth state budget is the elimination of IRIS as we know it. IRIS serves more than 11,000 people statewide. The philosophy of the program is in its name: Include, Respect, I Self-direct. People hire their own workers who perform many tasks including meal preparation, bathing, and getting people to work.