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Stay on Top of Legislation that Impacts You
Sign Up to Receive Our Free NHU Wisconsin Advocacy Alerts! via e-mail to stay on top of important Wisconsin 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!
Contact Your Lawmakers
To call or email your legislators, find your Wisconsin State legislators and their contact information: Who Are My Legislators? or call 1-800-362-9472.
Advocacy Alert! Did you vote Nov. 6th? Fill out the Voter Experience Survey from Disability Rights Wisconsin
Disability Rights Wisconsin is partnering with Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) on the SABE GoVoter survey. The survey collects information about the voting experiences of voters with disabilities in the November 6th election. You may complete the survey online, or complete a paper survey and mail it in.
Many voters with disabilities have had problems voting. Sharing your experience will help them learn if the voting barriers still exist or if they have improved. They will share what they learn with local, state and federal election leaders to protect our right to vote!
Go to Disability Rights Wisconsin: Voters with Disabilities: We Need to Hear From You
Advocacy Alert! August 2018 - Survival Coalition asked Wisconsin Governor candidates about disability issues - Visit the answers to the survey.
Are you registered to vote? Educate yourself about the election, and prepare to cast a ballot in November 2018!
The Wisconsin Survival Coalition asked governor candidates about disability issues before the primaries. Visit the survey for answers from Tony Evers (Democratic Party) candidate for Governor. Not all the candidates answered and the rest that did, did not make it past the primary election and will not be on the ballot in November.Candidates' for Governor Answers to Survival Coalition's Questions
Advocacy Alert! August 2018 - Voter Checklist
Are you registered to vote, educated about this year’s election, and prepared to cast a ballot in primaries in August and voting in November 2018?
Advocacy Alert! July 2018 -Will Your Voice Count in the 2018 Election? - Are YOU ready to vote?
Federal and local Midterm Elections are mere weeks away. Have you been paying attention? Do you know what is at stake? If you haven’t, and if you don’t, then it’s time to get to work… because your life may very well depend on it! If you haven’t, and if you don’t, then it’s time to get to work… because your life may very well depend on it!
If you have a disability, or you are a parent, family member, or caregiver of a person with a disability, chronic illness or a pre-existing condition, as it’s referred to these days, you do not have the luxury of sitting back silently as your legislators cut your benefits. This upcoming election is about your very existence!
For more information and resources on disability issues, National congressional candidates, voter registration, state voter policies and more that will help YOU vote, go to Will Your Voice Count?
For more on (link no longer available)Wisconsin State Assembly candidates and disability issues, Wisconsin voter registration, Wisconsin state voter policies and more that will help YOU vote, go to: (link no longer available) Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition Fall 2018 Elections .
Advocacy Alert! National Disability Voter Registration Week
July 16-20, 2018
Advocacy Alert! 2018 Wisconsin - Wisconsin! Your Voice is Heard through YOUR Vote!! Mark your 2018 calendar for this years elections!
If you live in Wisconsin these are the dates of elections.
February 20 - Spring Primary
April 3 - Spring Election
August 14 - Partisan Primary
November 6 - Fall Elections.
Check your municipal website for voting information and sample ballots. Research issues and candidates. Make your Voice Heard through YOUR Vote!
Advocacy Alert! Wednesday, Nov. 29th, 2017 - National call-in day on the Senate tax cut bill has been organized for people with disabilities, families, and advocates around the country
U.S. Senators need to hear directly from constituents about how the proposed tax bills will affect people with disabilities and their families.
The Senate could vote on this bill as early as this Thursday (11/30) or Friday (12/1).
You can RSVP and invite friends using the https://www.facebook.com/events/134373263949405/ Facebook event.
Suggested Action Steps Call Senators Johnson (202) 224-5323 and Baldwin (202) 224-5653 and:
Share your concerns about how the current tax proposals could cut Medicaid and other programs you care about and use. Share your concerns about how repealing the requirement for all people to purchase health insurance may cause premiums to rise, more people to become uninsured, and result in fewer choices of insurers in some areas. If you or your family member has a rare disease, tell your Senators and Representative how this credit has or could impact quality of life for people with rare diseases.
National Advocates say the bill will hurt people with disabilities because:
The bill increases the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion. This means that the federal government is not collecting enough money to pay for existing programs and services (like Medicaid—which funds Family Care, IRIS, BadgerCare, Children’s Long Term Supports, the Forward Health Card and other Wisconsin programs).
National advocates are very concerned that tax cuts, which reduce the amount of money the government has to spend, will result in cutting Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other programs and services that help people with disabilities.
It eliminates tax deductions and credits—including the Rare Disease Tax Credit—that help people with disabilities work, access housing, and get medication.
It gets rid of Affordable Care Act’s requirement that everyone have health insurance. This will cause premiums for people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions to increase, leaving health insurance unaffordable for millions.
We cannot list all the concerns for people with disabilities that the bill will cut.
Advocacy Alert! September 20, 2017 - AAPD - Action Alert! 10 Days to Stop Latest Health Care Repeal Effort - Wisconsin Contact your Senator Johnson! Tell your story!
Once again we have to alert you that your Medicaid is in jeopardy as well as health care for preexisting conditions. Please raise your voice to once again help to stop health care repeal. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) bill – is another effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gut Medicaid – and it is gaining traction in the Senate. Last week Senator Cassidy (R-LA), one of the co-sponsors, told reporters he believes he has support from 48-49 Republican Senators, just two or three votes shy of the majority needed to pass this bill. Learn about the bill in this article from the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) which also has everything and every idea on how to contact your senator - Action Alert! 10 Days to Stop Latest Health Care Repeal Effort!
July, 2017 -Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
How has the ADA helped you!
We must not be complacent, we must continue to be actively educating, training and building accessible awareness in our communities!
Wisconsin was given a great gift in 1991, Mirror Lake Accessible Camping Cabin for people with disabilities and their famlies to be able to enjoy the Wisconsin State Park.
We must appreciate today the amount of time and commitment that the members of the committee, the efforts of Anthonette Gilpatrick, Accessiblity Coordinator for the Wisconsin DNR, the Wisconsin DNR, Paul Quick II, architect and Art Miller, engineer and the Telephone Pioneers. This was just before the ADA was brought to law, yet the accessible ideas and decisions they made are the basis for the design and the accessible priorities and implementation of the seven additional cabins that have been built since 1991 in the Wisconsin State Parks.
Advocacy Alert! June 26, 2017 - Wisconsin! If You are concerned about Your Medicaid make Your Voice Heard!! The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilites offers the following article and urges you to Call Senator Ron Johnson and tell him your story today!
The U.S. Senate is set to take a vote on The Better Care Reconciliation Act that would contain a 26% cut to Medicaid over the next decade. Cuts to Medicaid mean cuts to 20 Wisconsin programs like Family Care, IRIS, the Children’s waiver, BadgerCare, mental health programs, Katie Beckett, autism services, personal care, and important therapies like speech, OT and PT.
If you use these services call Senator Ron Johnson
Call Senator Ron Johnson and tell him you are concerned also because:
"Cuts to Medicaid will hurt Wisconsin’s economy and lead to job loss. Medicaid brings about $5 billion to Wisconsin which supports hospitals, providers, and jobs through 20 Medicaid-funded programs. There are 75,000 Medicaid providers in Wisconsin – many of them small businesses and in rural communities. Cuts to Medicaid will result in cuts to provider rates and make provider shortages worse!" Tell Ron Johnson Wisconsin legislature voted against such cuts to our Wisconsin small business health care infrastructure this past year and Wisconsin cannot afford it devastated at the federal level. Your Wisconsin voice is important!
Call Senator Johnson’s three offices:
DC office: 202-224-5323
Oshkosh office: 920-230-7250
Milwaukee office: 414-276-7282
Advocacy Alert! April 2017 - Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (WBPDD) urges you to continue to tell your story! to the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee about your concerns for the Wisconsin State Budget.
Do you have concerns about your transportation or special education in the state of Wisconsin for people with disabilities, tell your story to your Wisconsin legislators and Joint Fnance Committee.
Also be sure to thank the legislature for continuing to support Family Care, IRIS and other Long Term Care supports for people with disabilities in our state. Be sure to include any personal story about your use of Medicaid and community supports for people with disabilities to live and work in their own communities and ask to expand these supports rather than to nursing homes.
Advocacy Alert! April 4th 2017 - Wisconsin! Your Voice is Heard through YOUR Vote!! Vote for Special Education in Tuesday elections!
Stay involved with your vote! State Superintendent of Public Instruction is on the Wisconsin ballot. Read about each candidate and make your decision about who will support Special Education.
Tony Evers is the current superintendent and has supported Public Education and Special Education. He shows respect for tax payers, students, parents, teachers, and
administrators, encouraging innovation and embracing collaboration. Tony Evers a champion of public schools from the Fond du Lac Reporter. "Public schools serve all students regardless of income, ethnicity or ability level..... His 2017-19 budget proposal prioritizes fair funding for schools, support for rural schools, increased special education funding and expanded summer learning. Under his Fair Funding Plan, all school districts would see an increase in their state general equalization aid while not experiencing increasing property taxes.......Recent studies (New York Times, Feb 23) show that when test scores of public school students are compared to the scores of their peers attending voucher schools, public school students outperform their voucher-school peers."
Advocacy Alert! March 2017 -
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
Strongly Urges You to Get Involved to Urge Congress
Save the Community First Choice Option
and other Provisions of the Affordable Care Act!
Stop cuts to Medicaid for the health and well being of
you and millions of people with disabilities!
"The Community First Choice Option (CFCO) was the result of decades of advocacy by the Disability Community! A stand-alone program passed along with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), CFCO enables many disabled people to live in the community. Proposals to repeal the ACA have eliminated CFCO without any discussion. Repeal of the ACA, would also eliminate accessibility standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment and insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. These advances in the rights of disabled people should not become collateral damage to politics."
Congress is planning to repeal the ACA and make changes that will cut Medicaid. People's health, services and lives are at stake!
How will the new American Health Act affect you? Visit the AAPD article, Action Alert! Tell Congress to Save Healthcare Provisions that are Essential to People with Disabilities
Losing home and community-based services and supports. Waiting lists would quickly grow.
Losing other critical services such as personal care, mental health, prescription drugs, and rehabilitative services. If funds become scarcer, states may decide to stop providing these services altogether.
Being forced into unnecessary institutionalization. States could return to the days of “warehousing” people with disabilities in institutions.
Shifting the costs to individuals or family members to make up for the federal cuts. The costs of providing health care and long-term services and supports will not go away, but will be shifted to individuals, parents, states, and providers.
Urgent - What Can You Do?
Contact your local and federal legislators, by calling 202-224-3121. Urge them to keep the Community First Choice Option in any ACA replacement."
Reach out to your Federal and state legislators and the Governor’s office in your state and tell them how repealing the ACA and replacing it with a plan that CUTS Medicaid will affect you. People's health, services and lives are at stake!
Read the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities article New URGENT CCD Action Alert ACA and Medicaid for how to contact your legislators and explain the importance of Medicaid and the ACA for you and people with disabilities.
Or Use the Following Links and Letters to Help You Send Your Message:
Want to Learn More?
There are other provisions of the ACA that if repealed could cause critical lack of health care for those most in need - people with disabilities in our communities.
Visit the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities article People with Disabilities Benefit from the Affordable Care Act .
Advocacy Alert! January 2017 - Medicaid Block Grants:
What They Are and How They Could Impact You?
Chances are, you or someone you love relies on Medicaid for any number of services; routine health care, personal aides, or health therapies, just to name a few.
Perhaps you’ve heard rumblings recently about some proposed changes to Medicaid; specifically, the idea of changing the way in which Medicaid services are funded by the Federal government. It's called block granting and here's what it could mean for you.
What is a Medicaid Block Grant?
A block grant is essentially a lump sum payment to states, shifting direction away from the Federal Government and instead allowing state governments to direct services as they see fit. Proponents of block grants believe this flexibility will lead to "innovation."
It's important to note however that most block grant proposals start with significant reductions in federal spending. Congress’ most recent 2016 proposal would cut $1 trillion from Medicaid, or one third of the program budget over the next decade.
So what does this mean?
This means that over time, states would have less money to work with, leaving Governor's with two options: (1) create revenue (read: raise taxes) to meet existing demand or (2) cut services and/or eligibility.
What could Medicaid Block Grants Mean for You?
Unless your state has a plan to make up for the reduced federal spending, the risk for fewer services and personalized options is high, particularly if you use Medicaid for community-based, self-directed care.
This could mean that you would have to rely more heavily on family members for care. If you don't have family to help, then possibly agencies (or worst case scenario, institutions) that can provide unpredictable care.
Of course a myriad of other services could be impacted as well, such as day programs, therapies, rehabilitation, etc.
What Can You Do?
Contact your local and federal legislators and tell them why you need Medicaid, what role Medicaid plays n your life. Share your story. Ask them to ensure that the services that 1 in 5 Americans need to remain independent are not compromised.
Connect with your legislators via USA.gov/elected-officials
Want to Learn More?
LIving in a democracy is a great privilege.
True independence can only be achieved in a democracy where you have choice.
Making a choice requires access to information.
Access to information is not possible without freedom of information.
Ultimately, our right to independence is only achievable
if we all make our voices heard
by exercising our right to VOTE!
Get Out and VOTE!
September 27, 2016: Visit our Wisconsin Voting Guide and register to vote on or after National Voter Registration Day
If you live in the state of Wisconsin, have you registered to vote? If you have not registered, do not be turned away from the polls from voting because you do not have proper documents to register? Try to register to vote ahead of time. If you have not voted in the last 4 years, you may no longer be registered. Visit our Wisconsin Voting Guide for more information on registering to vote in the state of Wisconsin.
September 7, 2016 - WisconsinEye delivers Wisconsin and Wisconsin's U.S. Representatives and Legislative Candidates - Campaign 2016
Would you like to know more about your Wisconsin Legislative candidates and Wisconsin's U.S. Representatives for this November's elections. Visit Wisconsin Eye Campaign 2016, scroll down and select on the side bar. This feed has candidates' interviews, who will be on your ballot and election results after the vote.
June 9, 2016 - Milwaukee, WI - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Withdraws Concept Plan
DHS Secretary, Kitty Rhoades, sent a letter to the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) formally withdrawing the concept plan approval request for Family Care/IRIS 2.0 reforms.
The Concept Paper outlining the Department's plan to reform the state's Family Care and IRIS programs was submitted for JFC approval on March 31, 2016.
As stated by Secretary Rhoades in her letter, DHS remains committed to the goal of an integrated outcome-based care model that coordinates all of an individual’s care needs. We are currently working through next steps and we will be working with members of the legislature, advocates, and stakeholders to continue to make progress towards this goal and improve the quality, coordination, and cost-effectiveness of Medicaid services.
In her letter to the JFC, Secretary Rhoades writes:
"We have received comments, feedback, and questions from providers, advocates, legislators, and most importantly consumers on our approach for a sustainable solution that provides better care for consumers at a lower cost to taxpayers. Therefore, I am writing to withdraw the concept plan approval request at this time."
The Secretary would like to send a special thank you to everyone who took the time to submit comments and questions in person at public hearings, in writing, and by phone. Your input was invaluable during this process.
June 7, 2016 - Milwaukee, WI - Journal Sentinel article reports - Wisconsin Legislators will likely delay on the long term care changes
Good news in this Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel on-line article which reports "Lawmakers delays likely on long term care changes." Wisconsin people with disabilities, the elderly and their families have been very concerned with the proposed changes to Family Care and IRIS programs that spell out cuts to those using these programs, which means loss of care, transportation and housing without a clear replacement plan. Senator Alberta Darling of the Joint Finance Committee will probably delay the vote.
ADVOCACY ALERT! May 15, 2016 - People Not Profits - Protect Family Care from For-Profit Insurers
The League of Progressive Seniors have sent notice to you to advocate for the elderly and people with disabilities. Ask Senator Alberta Darling and the Joint Finance Committee to please delay the vote on the proposal to change Family Care, a solid program to a poorly planned giveaway to big insurance companies. Family Care has worked for over 16 years, to allow people to live on their own, hold jobs, and develop their potential. Proposed savings to the state means cuts in services, people will lose one third of their current aid. elderly and disabled persons could lose the care, transportation and housing which allows them to lead full lives in the community outside of institutions. Institutions and nursing homes were closed years ago to allow people to live in their own communities. Where will people go without Family Care local supports? No one wants to live in an institution and it will cost the state much more than Family Care to to take people out of their homes and put them in costly institutions or out of work.
Stable effective non-profit groups will lose $3 billion in contracts costing local communities hundreds of jobs. The DHS is unable to explain why this change is needed, how this change will be carried out and how to avoid disrupting the lives of the elderly and disabled. Wisconsin 's perceived budget problems will be "fixed" on the backs of people with disabilities and the frail elderly, our most vulnerable population for a poorly planned idea that has not even been developed yet.
The vote for Family Care/IRIS 2.0 is currently in the works, and major decisions will be made by the end of May. Thousands of people using long-term care programs will be affected by these decisions. Please contact your legislator today and tell them why you want long-term care to stay local, and why these programs are vital to an independent life and that they should delay the vote until there is time to develop a plan that can work. Don't wait! The decisions of today can greatly affect the future.
ADVOCACY ALERT! 2016 Elections: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - Spring Election and Presidential Preference Vote - Wisconsin Citizens with Disabilities - Be sure to vote!
************WISCONSIN NOW REQUIRES A PHOTO ID TO VOTE *************
Please click here for voter ID information for the State of Wisconsin
Last day for voters (except indefinitely-confined and military electors) to request absentee ballots by mail is March 31st, 2016
Last day to vote in person at the Clerk’s Office and to register in person at Town, Village or City Hall is April 1, 2016
THERE IS NO VOTING AT YOUR TOWN, VILLAGE or CITY HALL THE MONDAY BEFORE THE ELECTION IN WISCONSIN.
For your sample ballot, go to your municipality's website page and click on Election Information and then on Sample Ballot or similar for the Spring Election.
March 2016 - Yes! You Can Work and Continue to Earn SSI Benefits!
A major concern of people with disabilities, caregivers, and social workers is how
a person with a disability who is able to work can keep their earnings and continue to
receive their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, and, perhaps more
importantly, their Medicare/Medicaid benefits. Now, there are two important ways that
Social Security has provided to help with these concerns: the Trial Work Period and the
ABLE Act of 2014. Learn more by visiting our new guide: Yes! You Can Work and Continue to Earn SSI Benefits!
March 2016 -- Let your candidates know that your life and voice matter! Election 2016 Report to Help Voters with Disabilities
If every eligible voter with a disability turned out to the polls this year...we would have a very different country on our hands. Educate yourself on the issues and let the candidates know that your life and voice matter! It's time to take back our Democracy and let our elected officials know that they are accountable to you, as a voting American Citizen! Visit our Election 2016 Report
January 2016 - Need for Stronger Mental Health System to Help Families in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin we need to bring awareness to the everyday issues of individuals and their families who face mental illness. We need a stronger mental health system in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee County requires law enforcement officers to be first responders for mental health crisis situations. Are the police adequately trained in Crisis Intermediation Training? (CIT)
Helping families in Mental Health Crisis Act(HR) 2646 2015- bipartisan Bill in Wisconsin legistlation, focus on comprehension health reform.
Bring awareness to the everyday issues faced by individuals needing a stronger mental health system.
November - Disability Rights Wisconsin provides testimony to legislators on the unique concerns for children and parents with disabilities concerning abuse and neglect investigation processes
The Wisconsin legislature is considering legislation intended to improve the child abuse and neglect investigation process. Recently Disability Rights Wisconsin testified in the Capitol to create awareness of unique concerns for children with disabilities and their parents, as well as parents with disabilities. Visit their testimonies at Disability Rights Wisconsin. The summary of their last testimony is as follows: "We believe that the current process does, in fact, discriminate against both the child and parent
with disabilities by failing to recognize and accommodate the communication and other needs of
people with disabilities. This proposed legislation does nothing to remedy this. We are asking this committee to consider adding a requirement that the state’s child protective services agency
develop model policies and procedure to deal with situations where either the child or parent has
a disability that requires an accommodation. These model policies must be replicated and enforced at the county level to be effective." They give model policies from other states.
November - Wisconsin Legislature considers a bill concerning abuse and neglect investigation processes
The Wisconsin State Legislature Representative John Macco (R-Ledgeview) introduced LRB-2015/1 with Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Attorney General Brad Schimel. LRB-2015/1 will require that child abuse or neglect cases to be referred to law enforcement. Although both types of cases are considered felonies, currently they are referred only to Child Protective Services. Recent news concerning recurring referrals to Child Protective Services for children with disabilities brings awareness that children with any type of disability are 3.44 times more likely to be a victim of some type of abuse compared to children without disabilities. (Sullivan & Knutson, 2000). The difficulty in investigation comes when the victim is non-verbal. Whether the investigator will be Child Protective Services or Law Enforcement, the new bill does not yet address the issue for children and adults with disabilities.
ADVOCACY ALERT! November 18 - DAWN published the following article on the Hearing on Long-Term Care
Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care will hold an informational hearing on Medicaid Managed Care - Family Care-IRIS 2.0,
Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 10:00 AM, Room: 412 East in State Capitol Building
This meeting is expected to last two hoursAn informational hearing presents another opportunity for you to educate your legislator about what is important to you about long-term care supports for people with disabilities and older adults in Wisconsin. The Assembly has scheduled an informational hearing with invited testimony from experts – which means that there will be no testimony from the public at this hearing.
But there are still important ways for you to get involved! Here’s what you can do:
Call or email your legislator TODAY and ask them to attend this hearing. (Find your legislator and his/her phone number by entering your address on this site: Wisconsin Legislators
Attend or Listen to the hearing yourself (it will be broadcast on WisconsinEye and take notes. What recommendations from the experts do you feel strongly about?
Follow-up with your legislator after the hearing and ask them to make recommendations about long-term care directly to the Department of Health Services. Ask them to represent YOU and your voice!
ADVOCACY ALERT! September - Speak or Write Your Story -Wisconsin Deartment of Health Services to hold public hearings on Family Care and IRIS
The 2015-2017 State Budget, Act 55, directs the Department of Health Services to make a number of changes to the Family Care and IRIS Programs. The Department is holding public hearings throughout the state in September 2015 in order to receive testimony from interested parties.
Public testimony will be accepted beginning on September 9, 2015, to coincide with the first public hearing. Testimony may be submitted in-person at one of the public hearing locations listed below, as well as by email or U.S. Mail. Written testimony is due by October 11, 2015.
For scheduled DHS hearings taking place across the state as soon as September 9th or how to view webcasts as well as how to submit public comments via email or mail on the new WI managed long-term care system, see the DHS LTC webpage: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/familycareiris2/index.htm
ADVOCACY ALERT! August 31 - View National Council on Disability's Madison Forum on Wisconsin's Medicaid Long-Term Managed Care System
The National Council on Disability held a full-day forum on the future of Wisconsin's Medicaid Long-Term Managed Care System in Madison on August 31. The forum included presentations from both state and national experts. BPDD testified on how managed long-term care can be improved in the future.
To view the presentations from the forum on WisEye, (link no longer available)
ADVOCACY ALERT! Speak up about IRIS and self-direction - Public Comments due September 11, 2015
via Wiscosnin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities
The state budget eliminates IRIS as a separate Medicaid Waiver program, and folds self-direction under the umbrella of managed care. However, DHS must renew the current IRIS waiver - set to expire at the end of 2015 - so the IRIS program can continue to run until (and if) it is replaced by the new system.
Every opportunity to tell DHS what self-direction should look like is important. Submitting public comments on the current IRIS program—even though the state budget calls for self-direction to be folded under managed care in the new system—can clearly communicate the elements of self-direction that people with disabilities and their families feel are important to retain in a new system.
Survival Coalition has prepared a brief Frequently Asked Questions Sheet for your review.
Also, be sure to read the proposed IRIS waiver.
Submit your comments to DHS by September 11, 2015 via e-mail or mail:
Department of Health Services
Attn: IRIS Waiver
1 West Wilson Street, Room 418
P.O. Box 7851
Madison, WI 53707-7851
Advocacy Alert! June 24, 2015 - As you may know, the budget has not yet moved out of the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee, since there are still issues being debated. Please write your legislator today to provide guarantees for the types of services in our current Family Care/IRIS Wisconsin Long Term Care programs!
The present changes to long-term care proposed by the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee are NOT what people with disabilities, older adults and their families are asking for. These changes do NOT preserve our current program.
These changes specifically:
Roll IRIS into managed care instead of keeping it as a separate Medicaid waiver program
Open up our managed care system to for-profit insurance with no specific caps on profits or administrative costs.
Do NOT provide guarantees on the same levels or types of services in our current Family Care/IRIS programs.
This plan may be different from the Governor’s but it heads in the same direction. Private insurance companies cannot promise savings in Wisconsin.
We ask the legislature to amend the budget to:
Preserve the proven elements of what we have in regional, non-profit models
Keep IRIS as a separate Medicaid Waiver program
Include stakeholders in a meaningful fashion
What can you do? You can share this explanation in an email to your legislators. Let them know that we are still concerned about the future of IRIS, Family Care and Aging and Disability Resource Centers! See above links for your Wisconsin Legislature and the members of the Joint Finance Committee.
Advocacy Alert! Join Wisconsin Citizen Advocates for Family Care and IRIS in Madison, Tuesday, June 9 for Press Event and March to Capitol
See the article at Save IRIS
It is not too late to try to retain Family Care and IRIS, your opportunity to TAKE ACTION to change the state budget and convince legislators to keep vital supports in place.
People with disabilities, older adults in long term care, their families and caregivers, and their supporters from across the state, come join Save IRIS and the Wisconsin Coalition for Long Term Care in Madison, Tuesday, June 9, starting at 9:30 at the Madison Senior Center, 333 W. Mifflin St., Press event: 10 a.m.; March to Capitol 10:30 a.m. Make your voice heard!
Wisconsin's renowned Long Term Care, Family Care, IRIS programs, the Aging and Disability Resource Centers, local and regional Wisconsin companies and non-profits that provide services will be replaced with out-of-state for-profit corporations.
The budget motion passed by Joint Finance last Wednesday:
Rolls IRIS under managed care instead of keeping it as a separate program.
Open up our managed care system to for-profit insurance with no specific caps on profits or administrative costs.
Does NOT provide guarantees on the same levels or types of services in our current Family Care/IRIS programs.
Advocacy Alert! It is not too late. Your final chance to share your voice on long-term care in WI!
The Joint Finance Committee took a critical vote on the proposed changes to Family Care, IRIS and ADRC's here in Wisconsin - It is not signed yet! Make your voice heard.
If you or your loved ones utilize any of these services the time is NOW to contact your legislators!
A recently released analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) says:"If the proposed changes would be adopted, the current long-term care system, including the regional MCOs, would be eliminated." And there is no back-up plan if the new program fails!
We must encourage the members of the JFC to remove the proposed changes to Family Care, IRIS, and the ADRCs.
Contact your legislator before Wednesday's vote if you support keeping current programs in place. Following are specific recommendations supported by the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.
Alternative 5 in LFB Paper #356 http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/publications/budget/2015-17 Budget/Documents/Budget Papers/356.pdf - "Long-Term Care Changes" (Link no longer available)
Alternative A4, B4 and C3 in LFB Paper #357 http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/publications/budget/2015-17 Budget/Documents/Budget Papers/357.pdf - "Aging and Disability Resource Centers" (Link no longer available)
Alternative 3 (but approve the 3.0 positions for the Board on Aging and Long-term Care) in LFB Paper #358 http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/publications/budget/2015-17 Budget/Documents/Budget Papers/358.pdf - "Statewide Expansion of Family Care and IRIS" (Link no longer available)
Contact Your Legislators
Contact the Members of the Joint Finance Committee (see below)
The time is NOW. The vote is today!
May 14-15, 2015 - Breaking News!!! Proposed Wisconsin Budget reductions to Long Term Care Programs were removed but what is planned for Family Care and IRIS
After we had published our (link no longer available)>NHU article on the proposed Wisconsin Budget reductions to the long term care programs of IRIS, Family Care and the ADRC services, the Wisconsin Legislature has issued an announcement that the Republican leaders on the Joint Finance Committee rejected Governor Walker's proposed long term care changes, although pursuing limited reforms with strong legislative oversight. See the May 14, 2015 Wisconsin Legislature Announcement.
As the Survival Coaltion of Wisconsin Disabilitiy Organizations states, Wisconsin families and citizens with disabilities can be relieved that the plan the Joint Finance Committee is implementing will require public and stakeholder input before any changes are made, but they are concerned as the proposal does not guarantee that the current highly rated Family Care and IRIS programs will remain in place. These programs have saved hundreds of millions of dollars for the state over the past decade and will continue to do so in the next. - See the Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations letter of May 15, 2015
Advocacy Alert! April 3rd 2015 - Wisconsin State Representative, Mark Born, has proposed a Motion to remove the changes to Family Care, IRIS and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) out of the 2015-17 Biennial Budget
Wisconsin State Representative, Mark Born, has introduced a Motion to take the changes to Family Care, IRIS and the ADRC's out of the 2015-17 Biennial Budget. "These programs affect the lives of thousands of individuals across the state. There is a lack of details and clear plan in the budget which leaves people unable to prepare for changes, and the changes need more input from stakeholders to better understand how they will affect participants, their families and the state." (link no longer available)See the Born Senate Motion. We congratulate Rep. Born for taking leadership on this important issue.
See the Disability Rights Wisconsin, article and for the still many unanswered questions about the changes: (link no longer available)Family Care, IRIS and ADRC's: Questions
This lack of answers about the proposed plan has families, people with disabilities, the elderly and communities very concerned about the future of their lives and are asking for removal of the changes from the budget NOW!
Please contact your legislators on how these changes will affect you! Here are the 4 Action Steps YOU Can Take, from Disability Rights Wisconsin:
1. Call or write your legislator and say: “Will you support the budget motion authored by Representative Mark Born to take the significant changes to our state’s long-term care system out of the budget? I am very concerned about the changes to Family Care, IRIS and ADRCs for these reasons (tell your story). I think these changes need to come out of the budget now so that stakeholders can provide input and so the state can better understand all the impacts. Bottom line: we need many more details and answers to our questions.”
2. Ask your legislator to confirm with you that they will publicly support the Born Motion and will contact the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee to ask them to pull the changes to Family Care, IRIS and Aging and Disability Resource Centers out of the budget. To contact the members of the Joint Finance Committee, here are their email addresses: Rep.Nygren@legis.wisconsin.gov; Rep.Kooyenga@legis.wisconsin.gov; Rep.Loudenbeck@legis.wisconsin.gov; Rep.Knudson@legis.wisconsin.gov; Rep.Schraa@legis.wisconsin.gov; Rep.Czaja@legis.wisconsin.gov; Rep.Taylor@legis.wisconsin.gov; Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov; Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov; Sen.Olsen@legis.wisconsin.gov; Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov; Sen.Vukmir@legis.wisconsin.gov; Sen.Tiffany@legis.wi.gov; Sen.Marklein@legis.wi.gov; Sen.Taylor@legis.wisconsin.gov; Sen.Erpenbach@legis.wisconsin.gov; email@example.com
3. Share the Born Motion with your legislator and people in your community. Ask people you know to contact their legislators as well.
4. Share with your legislators the list of questions (link above) that still need to be answered: Family Care, IRIS and ADRCs: Questions. Ask your legislator if they will help you get answers to your questions.
See the links above this article to find your Wisconsin State Legislators.
Advocacy Alert! March 2015 - Proposed Wisconsin budget calls for elimination of IRIS, drastic changes to Long-Term Care system that may affect you
The 2015-17 Wisconsin State budget is calling for some major changes to the state's long term care programs (including Family Care, IRIS, and the Personal Care Program) that may directly impact you and your family. Disability Rights Wisconsin has developed an overview of the proposed changes.
write your Wisconsin legislators about how the major changes to the state's long term care programs will affect you. For more information, Life Navigators has offered the following links from various resources. Be sure to view the Issue Cards if you need key talking points to tell how these programs will affect you.
Share this information with family and friends and ask them to contact their Wisconsin legislators today!
Advocacy Alert! March 17, 2015 - Wisconsin Disability Advocacy Day at the state capitol. New Wisconsin budget calls for elimination of IRIS, drastic changes to Family Care and the Long-Term Care system
March 17th is Wisconsin Disability Advocacy Day! If you are participating at the capitol, be sure to visit our NHU facebook page to tell of your activities today and with which Wisconsin legislators you were able to speak today or share what you were trying to accomplish via email to all your family and friends and ask them to contact their Wisconsin legislators! The new Wisconsin budget will affect people with disabilities' long term care.
If you were unable to register in time for Disability Day, be sure to write your Wisconsin legislators about how the major changes to the state's long term care programs will affect you. For more information, Life Navigators has offered the following links from various resources. Be sure to view the Issue Cards if you need key talking points to tell how these programs will affect you.
Share this information with family and friends and ask them to contact their Wisconsin legislators today!
Advocacy Alert! February 2015 - New Wisconsin budget calls for elimination of IRIS, drastic changes to Long-Term Care system
The 2015-17 Wisconsin State budget is calling for some major changes to the state's long term care programs (including Family Care, IRIS, and the Personal Care Program) that may directly impact you and your family. Disability Rights Wisconsin has developed an (link no longer available)overview of the proposed changes.
1. Contact Your Legislators
Go to Wisconsin State Legislature and type in your address to find your legislators. Call the number that is listed.
Here are some ideas of what to say to legislators when calling:
Hi, my name is [...]
I live in [...]
I am calling because I am very worried/concerned about the proposed budget's plan to eliminate the IRIS program.
IRIS is important to me because [...] (Tell them briefly how IRIS has made a difference in your or your family member's life.)
Ask your Senator/Representative to please take elimination of IRIS out of the budget and encourage more time and study to determine the impacts of such a big change.
Remember to be respectful. We are making allies to help us SAVE IRIS.
2. Attend Disability Advocacy Day
The Survival Coalition is planning a Disability Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 17th in Madison. This event is free but requires registration. Register now.
CILs across the state will be hosting free rides to this important event. Locate your CIL.
3. Attend a Budget Training Session
If you cannot attend Disability Advocacy Day in Madison, then consider attending a local Budget Training session and use the information to advocate from your home. Find a session near you.
4. Spread the Word
Please share this with your networks far and wide. We must not allow the well being of our children and adults with disabilities to be compromised in favor of budget cuts and catering to private enterprise. This is your LIFE! Do not allow politicians to dictate how you live!
Advocacy Alert! January 2015 - The National Disability Institute advocates to contact your state Governor's office and state legislators to set up an ABLE savings account program in your state
After the Treasury Department establishes the rules, your state will be able to set up a program for ABLE accounts for people with early onset disabilities. States can opt out and contract with another state to offer the program so it is important to contact your state representatives to let them know this program is important to you! The ABLE savings account will allow individuals to supplement that which assistance will not cover for accessible housing and
transportation, personal assistance services, assistive technology and
health care not covered by insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. You will have the option to save up to $14,000 in a tax-free savings account,
eliminating the $2,000 asset cap SSI and SSDI beneficiaries face. For more information, visit this video on Ten Things You Must Know About ABLE Accounts and ABLE Account Planning: Six Next Steps for 2015 Be careful with the 6th step which is to start saving. We do not recommend this until we find out more about regulations of accounts as you do not want to lose your benefits.
December 16th, 2014 - the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014- It will now be up to the individual states to set up an ABLE program so you can use this tool to set up an account by the end of 2015.
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act will allow people with disabilities (with an age of onset up to 26 years old) and their families the opportunity to create a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life. In the past if you were born with Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida you were only allowed to keep $2000 to maintain eligibility for public assistance. Your parents could not save for costs related to raising a child with significant disabilities or a
working age adult with disabilities. The ABLE savings account will allow individuals to supplement that which assistance will not cover for accessible housing and
transportation, personal assistance services, assistive technology and
health care not covered by insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. You will have the option to save up to $14,000 in a tax-free savings account,
eliminating the $2,000
asset cap SSI and SSDI beneficiaries face. This could finally mean
financial freedom!! The individual states will need to set up an ABLE program and hopefully you will be able to set up an account by the end of 2015. See above on how to contact your state representative to get this set up at the state level. For more information on the bill, see the National Disability Institute's article on the passage of this bill.
If you have questions or ideas, information and solutions that you would like to
share with us, we can be reached on the Net at: firstname.lastname@example.org or
to use our NHU E-Mail Form or NHU Community Forum, click on the links