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What's New?

Legislation: Wisconsin: Special Report: 2011-2013 Budget Bill

In this report we are including more information on the following: on what is in the bill, how will the bill impact you, and what positions are disability advocacy groups taking?

New Sign Action Alert! April 7-13, 2011 - The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has scheduled four public hearings on the Biennial Budget Bill and will receive written comments

For information on the Public Hearings, go to our page on Wisconsin Legislation Action Alerts!

For more information on the Joint Finance Committee's public hearing schedule, go to http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/jfc/schedule.htm

What is in the Bill? How Will the Bill Impact You? What Positions are Disability Advocacy Groups Taking?

2011-2013 - Wisconsin Budget would make important changes that will impact Medicaid

The following has been sent from an action alert by the DAWN (Disability Advocates Wisconsin Network):

The State Senate and State Assembly the The Governor's Budget Repair Bill was to assist government to deal with the budget deficit in the current fiscal year. The bill contains an important change that will impact Medicaid and the 1.1 million Medicaid recipients across the state.

The bill as amended would allow the Governor and Joint Finance Committee to make changes to the Medicaid program without legislative oversight or public input.

The changes in the Governor's Budget could be to recipients of Medicaid including eligibility for children, parents and uninsured adults, reduced services and benefits in programs that serve elderly and persons with disabilities, including BadgerCare, SeniorCare, Family Care, children's waivers and other vital programs or changes in co-pays and premiums without legislative oversight or any public input. For example, the Governor and Joint Finance Committee could decide to increase cost sharing by program participants and allow providers to deny services to people who couldn’t pay the cost share. These changes would have an enormous impact on adults and children with disabilities and others who depend on these services every day.

The Budget Bill is calling for $500 million in unspecified cuts/savings from Medicaid (and about $750 to $800 million federal match), relative to a cost-to-continue budget. Also $15 million cut from SeniorCare and $96 million from centralizing, automating, and privatising "income maintenance" for Food Share, SSI support and child support will move from Department of Health Services to Department of Children and Families.

Disability advocates believe that any changes to the Medicaid program must be made with public input and the involvement of the entire legislature. They believe that these Medicaid provisions should be taken out of the budget repair bill. If Wisconsin proposed changes are not federally approved, possibly up to 70,000 people may lose coverage on BadgerCare. DHS has indicated interest in changes to BadgerCare that increase costs for consumers, restricts eligibility, and reduces services covered.

What can I do?

Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 2 for Medicaid

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will accept comments on Medicaid programs. Testimony will also be accepted via email to DHS Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades at DHSDeputySecretaryKittyRhoades@dhs.wisconsin.gov or via U.S. mail to Secretary Dennis Smith, Room 650, 1 W. Wilson St., Madison, WI, 53703.

2011-13 Wisconsin Budget threatens drastic cuts to public transit

The 2011 Biennial State Budget proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker could have a devastating impact on the public transportation services relied upon by Wisconsin residents with disabilities. As it stands now, the state budget (AB 40 and SB27) not only reduces state transit aid by 10%, but will also move the $107 million segregated transportation fund to the general fund. This move will make this money available for any number of other services, which are also facing severe cuts, including education, Badger Care, and Medicaid. If this money is reallocated to these programs, very little will remain for transit; leading to drastically reduced service hours and routes for the bus lines and paratransit.

This vital link to your place of employment, your doctor, your grocery store, your church, your community, could become much harder to come by. That is why you must contact your state legislators and ask them to preserve the transportation fund and to preserve your freedom to access your community and contribute to the state’s economy.

What can I do?

Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 7 for Transportation

2011-2013 Wisconsin Budget cuts general school aid and less support for Special Education

With more than $800 million cut in general school aid, the 2011 Biennial State Budget proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker could lead to less supports for, and greater segregation of, special education students. Local school districts will be forced to make drastic cuts, leading to larger class sizes and less hands-on assistance for students who require special accommodations for learning. The budget will also reduce local revenue caps by 5.5%, making it extremely difficult for local districts to raise money locally. Despite these drastic cuts to public education, the Governor is proposing a $40 million increase for school choice, charter schools and open enrollment, and extending these options to families with much higher incomes. Special education students are often not afforded the luxury of taking advantage of such options and therefore will not benefit from this funding increase.

If you have a child that is receiving special education services, it is imperative that you contact your legislators and let them know how these cuts will impact your child's ability to succeed in school and life itself. The services your child receives now will lay the groundwork for the rest of their lives. We must fight for our children's rights to receive a decent public education that will allow them to excel now and into the future!

What can I do?

Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 3 for Special Education

2011-2013 Wisconsin State Budget freezes Family Care jeopardizing community services for Long Term Care

Expansion of Family Care, Family Care Partnership, and IRIS to new counties is halted as of July 1, 2011 unless DHS finds that the programs reduce costs. In addition, enrollment in counties that have the programs is capped at the enrollment level as of June 30, 2011. No new people can enroll in Family Care, Family Care Partnership, IRIS, or Pace except through attrition.

Family Care Ombudsman Program: are planned to fund at current levels. Institutional care remains an entitlement.

Because of the enrollment freeze, people currently enrolled will remain as participants, however those on waiting lists will continue to wait and the cap will cause new waiting lists in counties that ended waiting lists years ago. With the support of Family Care, Partnership, PACE and IRIS you are living and working in the most integrated setting. Family Care offers community services, consumer choice and a right to service without waiting.

What can I do?

Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 1 for Long Term Care

The Department of Health Services will accept comments on Long Term Care budget changes. Testimony will be accepted via email to DHS Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades at DHSDeputySecretaryKittyRhoades@dhs.wisconsin.gov or via U.S. mail to Secretary Dennis Smith, Room 650, 1 W. Wilson St., Madison, WI, 53703.

2011-2013 Wisconsin State Budget cuts county shared revenue for youth aids undermining services for Mental Health Programs

Cuts to community based services will result in cuts to mental health services, which supports people in crisis. The consequences will result in higher costly inpatient services.

What can I do?

Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 5 for Mental Health

2011-2013 Wisconsin State Budget repeals progressive changes from the last session that benefit many inmates in Corrections with disabilities and mental illness

Inmates with disabilities and mental illness will no longer be able to petition for an earned release which passed during the last legislative session. The Bill cuts aid to counties for youth programs, such as juvenile justice, by 10%. Closing juvenile corrections institutions will separate families from their children.

What can I do?

2011-2013 Wisconsin State Budget centralizes, automates and privatizes Access to Benefits

The proposed budget will centralize, automate and privatize Income Maintenance for benefit programs at the state level instead of at the existing county level. Transfer Food Share, SSI support and Child Support from the Department of Health Services to the Department of Children and Families.

People who apply for benefits such as Food Share, Medicaid, Family Care and BadgerCare will have limited access to an actual person at the local level for assistance to apply for these programs. Each program is very complex; people with disabilities may need assistance or may not have access to computers or the Internet.

What can I do?

What Can I Do to Advocate on Disability Issues in the Wisconsin State 2011-2013 Budget?

Advocates are recommending the following to continue to address and give suggestions for the Wisconsin State Budget.

Stay on Top of Legislation that Impacts You

Take Action is a new way to stay in touch with your representatives regarding legislation that may impact you. While it is a national tool, DAWN, has developed it to focus on Wisconsin Legislation. Visit www.dawninfo.org to stay on top of important legislation.

The Wisconsin Legislative Notification System provides you the opportunity to follow important legislation through daily or weekly e-mails for specific legislative activities. You can choose items by Proposal, Committee, Author or Subject and can select the activities for which you would like to receive notifications. It's your future! Get involved! Stay involved! Sign up today, visit http://Notify.legis.state.wi.us.

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