AARP AARP States Health & Wellbeing

How the Budget Impacts Seniors

State Capitol of Wisconsin
Henryk Sadura

Governor Walker’s proposed state budget will soon be open for comment at four public hearings across the state. You can count on AARP being a persistent voice at each one, testifying about how the budget would impact seniors.

We are asking legislators to take out the Governor’s proposed changes to SeniorCare and Family Care. We are also urging the state to include Medicaid Expansion and to put the Wisconsin Private Secure Retirement Act in the budget.

Here’s what’s at stake:

SeniorCareThis popular and efficient program helps about 85,000 Wisconsinites age 65-plus with the cost of life-saving prescription drugs. Walker’s plan calls for alignment with Medicare Part D which would result in significantly higher costs for seniors each year. In order to get DHS seniorcare fact sheet , Walker is proposing that a person must first apply for, and (if eligible) enroll in a Part D program. This is the same proposal AARP beat back in the past but we must do it again. We want the proposed changes removed from the budget so that Wisconsin seniors can continue to save on the cost of their prescription drugs.

Family Care – This program saves tens of thousands of dollars per person by allowing older adults to remain living and receiving nursing-home-type care services in their homes and communities instead of nursing homes or other costly institutions. While AARP would like to see Family Care made available in all 72 counties, we don’t support the idea of forcing counties into the program, which is what the governor is proposing.

The governor is also proposing to eliminate the IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self Direct) program as a choice. IRIS gives seniors the option of controlling the design of their own health care plan and participating in the selection of their providers. He also proposes to turn the management of the program over to for-profit insurance companies to run it statewide.

Family Care has been a very successful program. Current legislation already allows for the expansion to all counties. We believe any proposed changes should be done cautiously and studied with stakeholder input. The budget should only contain funding for such a study.

BadgerCare - In the last budget, childless adults up to 100% of the federal poverty level gained coverage under BadgerCare. This was a Wisconsin unique solution to covering childless adults without accepting Medicaid Expansion. Now the budget proposes major changes to that program, adding premiums and limiting the time a person can be on the program. The changes are an admission that that plan failed to meet its objectives. The best way to provide health care coverage for low income childless adults is by accepting Medicaid Expansion. Accepting this expansion would cover more people for less state money.

Work and Save - We are encouraging the Joint Finance Committee to add the Wisconsin Private Secure Retirement Act (SB 45) to the state budget. This bill creates a study group to explore creating a system not unlike the Wisconsin Retirement System for workers in the private sector who do not have access to a retirement saving plan at their work place. Helping people prepare for a financial secure retirement is priority for AARP WI.

We need your help! Make your voice heard and join us at a state budget hearing near you!

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