AARP and its Wisconsin members have strongly supported Wisconsin’s Family Care program from the very beginning. AARP supported Governor Thompson when he signed the program into law in 1999 as a five-county pilot program to provide for the long-term care needs of our low-income residents.
AARP supported Governor Doyle in 2006 when he initiated the statewide expansion of Family Care. Now AARP and its members need to encourage Governor Walker and members of the state’s Joint Finance Committee to include funding in the 2013-15 biennial budget to continue the expansion of the Family Care program to the remaining un-served counties.
Family Care currently serves developmentally disabled, physically disabled and frail elderly low-income residents in 57 Wisconsin counties. Over 40,000 Wisconsin residents, nearly half of them classified as “frail elderly”, depend on the Family Care program for some level of support.
The program provides assistance tailored to the individual needs of the participant. This includes help with their daily activities of living (eating, hygiene, etc.), home modifications, transportation needs, respite care, adult day care facilities, counseling and therapy and many other vital services that enable participants to live in dignity and lead a fulfilling life.
Nearly 60% of Family Care services are provided in the homes of those served and another 35% are delivered in dedicated residential settings. This reduces the demand for more expensive nursing home and other institutional alternatives. Avoiding or delaying the need for a nursing home not only saves money but leads to better patient outcomes and is consistent with health care best practices.
Family Care has been introduced in the first 57 counties with bipartisan support and has been proven to be a cost-effective and widely accepted way to provide Long-Term Care services to low income residents.
Evaluations of the Family Care program have determined that its cost per patient is lower than comparable programs. It also improves access to long-term care and ensures thorough care planning with choices tailored to individual patients. Additionally, member satisfaction surveys have shown a consistent high level of member satisfaction. Family Care is a program that works and should be available throughout Wisconsin.
By AARP WI Volunteer Advocate Pat Meier