Monday, February 25, 2013


My, my, interesting, the all high, mighty and pious one is not above human weakness. What I detest more than anything are people that demand personal responsibilities from others and don't live up to their own self righteous standards they impose. What's that saying.... do as I say... not as I do.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Great News... Bad News!

I cheered when I read this! Unfortunately one devil was replaced by another. Kitty Rhoades is no friend to the struggling in Wisconsin. She is just as cold and calloused as Smith is.

Tammy Tells Him!

Keeping Up With The Republican Held Legislation

Capitol Connection
E-Update - February 21, 2013
~ Budget Process Begins ~
Yesterday, the legislature began its work on the 2013-15 state budget when Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal was formally introduced for consideration. While this is the first time legislators and members of the public have an opportunity to review this initial budget proposal, work on the budget has been taking place for months. Below is a brief description of how Wisconsin’s budget process works- from initial development until final passage. I hope this information will be a helpful guide as the legislature discusses this important issue over the next several months.

Wisconsin’s budget is based on a two-year cycle, called a biennium, stretching from July 1 of odd-numbered years through June 30 of even-numbered years. Therefore, the current budget (passed in June, 2011) lasts from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013. In preparation for the beginning of the next biennium, state agencies begin evaluating their departments and staff in the summer, or even before, of even-numbered years. Agency managers attempt to determine what costs and staff they will need for the next biennium. Agencies also work to suggest necessary changes to the programs that they administer during this time.

By the fall of even numbered years, the Governor requires each of the agencies to formalize a funding request for their specific agencies for the biennium and submit these to his office. Once the Governor receives these requests, he can begin analyzing them and considering how they will fit together with each other and with additional funding priorities he may have that will need to be accounted for. The Governor typically spends from late fall of even-numbered years through February of odd-numbered years considering these requests and developing his recommended budget.

In February, the Governor will formally introduce his suggested budget for consideration by the legislature. This happened on February 20th. While the Governor has significant discretion to develop the budget according to his own ideas, there is one major restriction- Article VIII, Section 5 of Wisconsin’s constitution requires that the budget is balanced. Unlike the federal government, Wisconsin cannot run consistent budget deficits.

When the Governor introduces his budget, he usually starts this process by addressing both houses of the legislature, convened in a joint session. This is called the “budget address”, and is required under state law. During the budget address, the Governor highlights the major points of his budget to legislators and asks for their support.

Once the budget is introduced and the Governor’s budget address is given, the bill is referred to the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) for initial legislative consideration. As a member of this committee, I have the unique responsibility of participating in early discussions related to legislative changes that may be proposed to the budget. First, members of the JFC will spend several weeks looking through all of the specific parts of the budget as proposed by the Governor and receiving input on its various provisions from constituents, fiscal analysts, attorneys, and other legislators. I hope to soon announce a series of budget input sessions in the 9th Senate District to help me in this regard.

Next, JFC will receive briefings from each of the state agencies affected by the budget. This will give individual agency representatives the chance to comment on the specific portions of the budget affecting them. After this, JFC will hold several public hearings at various locations around the state. While I and other legislators will be holding our own listening sessions in our individual districts, these public hearings give individuals the chance to address all 16 members of the JFC at one time. These public hearings are typically day-long events with hundreds of members of the public testifying.

Following the public hearing process, JFC will begin to vote on changes to the budget bill. Members of JFC are able to suggest changes to the bill, called “motions”, which are then voted on by the entire committee. JFC will consider motions suggested by various members throughout April, May, and June of this year. Once all changes to the bill have been suggested and either approved or rejected, JFC holds a vote to pass the full budget bill out of committee. Once JFC approves a budget, it will go to the full State Assembly and then State Senate for consideration. After the budget receives approval by the legislature, the final step is for the Governor to sign the bill into law. This is expected to occur in late June, right before the beginning of the next biennium. As with other bills, the Governor can veto all or part of the budget and his vetoes can be overridden by a 2/3 vote of both houses of the legislature.

As you can tell, we are just beginning the process of considering the budget. Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting specific sections of the budget bill for you to review. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on these various specific provisions and encourage you to stay in contact as the process moves forward.

Thanks to the collective efforts of many people over the past two years, our state’s fiscal house is now in order. Our current state budget is balanced and it is projected that we will begin the next biennium with a cash surplus. It is from this fiscally responsible starting point that the Governor and the legislature can consider appropriate funding levels for necessary government programs and tax law changes that will allow the citizens of our state to keep more of their hard earned money.

As a member of the Joint Finance Committee, I look forward to working with Governor Scott Walker, my colleagues in the legislature and citizens from across the 9th Senate District at advancing commonsense budget ideas that will incentivize the creation of more private sector jobs, promote independence, ensure the provision of quality government programs and services and make Wisconsin more friendly for all taxpayers.

This is from my representative Senator Liebham. As you can see, if I voice my opposition to anything Walker wants to do, Liebham will not take it into consideration because he thoroughly backs the Walker. He is on the joint finance committee and has proven he will gladly pay for Walkers agenda, I watched him do it during the last budget bill debates and by his tone on this email update, it doesn't look like his attitude has changed. I recommend that the people who read this follow along on, during the joint finance debates. It's an eye opening experience.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Walkers Budget 2.0

Walker's Medicaid gamble: Shrinking BadgerCare could cost Wisconsin in the long run
Joe Tarr on Thursday 02/21/2013 

Eskrich: 'We're turning down so much money that would provide so much coverage.'
Gov. Scott Walker's plan to shrink the state's BadgerCare program could end up costing the state about $250 million more by 2020, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo.
Walker announced last week that rather than expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin — as called for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) — he would reduce it.
President Obama has asked states to expand their Medicaid programs — in Wisconsin, it's called BadgerCare — to 138% of the poverty line, with the promise that the federal government would pay the full cost of newly eligible enrollees in the program for the first three years and 90% of the cost after that. (The federal government now pays 60% of current Medicaid enrollees, while the state pays 40%.)
But Wisconsin is distinct in that it already covers many people above the 100% poverty line. Parents and children at 200% of the poverty level can enroll in BadgerCare programs. Children up to 300% of the poverty level can get subsidized coverage, provided their parents pay some of the premium. And Wisconsin offers a barebones plan, called BadgerCare Plus Core, to childless adults up to 200% of the poverty level.
But the catch is that many of these programs are now closed to new adult enrollees, and there are long waiting lists. Expanding Medicaid would end those waiting lists and bring an estimated $4.4 billion in federal money into the state over the next six years, giving 175,000 more people health care.
But Walker argues that the federal government — with its massive deficit — would eventually cut funding for the program, leaving the state with the bill.
Instead, Walker proposes lowering BadgerCare's eligibility for adults to the poverty level, but ending the waiting list for anyone below it. This would bring about 82,000 more people who are below the poverty line into BadgerCare. On the other hand, it would also push 87,000 adults who are slightly above the poverty line off BadgerCare.
Those people would qualify for federal subsidies and, Walker argues, would be able to get coverage in the insurance exchange, which the federal government is setting up.
In announcing his decision to the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce meeting at Monona Terrace on Feb. 13, Walker said: "Our goal in government should not be how many more people can we get on these programs. Our goal should be the opposite, how many people can we get off of them because we've empowered them to control their own lives, control their own destiny, and move themselves and their families forward."
The same day Walker made his announcement, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau put out a memo outlining the cost of the various options Walker could take. Although the details of Walker's plan were unknown until he released his budget this week, the option that most closely matched Walker's comments would cost the state more money, the Bureau found.
In the first six months, Walker's plan would initially save the state about $14 million, but then the cost begins to grow, to $28.4 million in 2015 and $72.8 million in 2020. It would cost the state an extra $320 million through 2020 — about $250 million more than the option to expand Medicaid.
David Riemer, senior fellow at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee, says, "The governor has proposed a plan that reduces a program. Usually when you do that, you cost the state less money. But his plan increases costs for the state."
The problem, Riemer says, is the people who would be added to BadgerCare will cost more to insure than those who will be purged.
There are other costs to the state, Riemer argues. Companies with employees near the poverty line will be at risk of a special $3,000 tax for each employee who cannot afford the company's insurance plan. That tax could add up to $120 million a year, he says. However, if those employees "are eligible for BadgerCare, employers don't get taxed." So an expanded BadgerCare means fewer employers would be subject to the tax.
Riemer is urging the governor to take a middle path: reduce Medicaid coverage to 138% of the poverty line, sending those above that level to the federal exchanges. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau evaluated that option and found it would reduce state spending in the next budget by more than $90 million and would save the state $217 million by 2020.
"This scenario frees up money that could be used for whatever," Riemer says. "It could be used for tax cuts."
What does all this mean for people who are pushed out of BadgerCare into the private insurance exchanges? Will the coverage be as good?
Sara Eskrich, health care policy analyst with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, says the federal "benchmark" (PDF) for plans in the exchange moves "in the right direction in covering mental health and substance abuse treatment."
But, she adds, "One of the strengths of Medicaid is the simplicity in how it's administered."
Reducing the eligibility for BadgerCare could also end up costing county governments more, Eskrich says. County governments are responsible for paying for the emergency care of uninsured people in crisis situations.
"In an ideal world, they'd be on their meds and in therapy, so they wouldn't need that emergency care," says Eskrich, who laments: "We're turning down so much money that would provide so much coverage."
Shel Gross, director of public policy for Mental Health America of Wisconsin, says that county governments currently offer a range of community support services to the mentally ill through Medicaid. These include case management, help with daily living, help finding work, and help making sure people take their medications. "It's a host of services that help people live in the community and recover," he says.
The exchange plans are supposed to include these services, but the initial benchmark did not list them, Gross says.
"Counties are really the ones that have the responsibility for these services," he says. "To the degree that people who will lose their BadgerCare coverage were receiving services, the counties potentially take a hit."
Carrie Springer, a Dane County spokeswoman, says until county officials know specifics of the governor's plan, they won't know how the county will be affected.
There are many uncertainties, since the governor's plan would bring some new people into BadgerCare but kick others off it. "How those two things balance out, I don't know," Gross says. "There can be gains and losses for the counties, and how those offset each other is unclear."
Eskrich fears the governor's plan will push a vulnerable population into the confusing exchanges and add even more uncertainty to their lives. "People who are right at that poverty line are going to be moving back and forth between the exchange and Medicaid," she says.
Riemer agrees this will be difficult for some. For instance, many poor people who will be in the exchanges don't have bank accounts or credit cards. So even if they can afford a heavily subsidized plan, "the system doesn't allow you to stuff cash in an envelope and mail it someplace. So how do these people keep paying it each month?"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Governor Proposes Reduced BadgerCare Coverage for Parents, to Fund Increase for Childless Adults

Governor Walker announced today that his budget proposal will significantly reduce eligibility for parents in BadgerCare, while partially closing the current gap in BadgerCare coverage for adults who don’t have dependent children. The Governor’s plan will cut in half the income ceiling on BadgerCare eligibility for parents, which has been set at 200% of the poverty level since Tommy Thompson initiated BadgerCare back in 1999.

The Governor said the state won’t take the federal money that could finance all of the cost of the expanded coverage of childless adults in the next biennium, and which could actually reduce state spending byan estimated $44 million during that period. Instead, the Governor’s plan will finance the cost of covering an estimated 82,000 additional childless adults by ending BadgerCare coverage for about 87,000 parents (according to DHS estimates). The plan presumes that the state can get a new waiver for covering childless adults in BadgerCare, although that is by no means certain.

Some have called this proposal a compromise or a "middle path."  I doubt that the parents who lose their BadgerCare coverage will see it that way.  

A key aspect of the rationale for the proposal is that the adults over the poverty level who become ineligible for BadgerCare will be able to purchase private coverage through the new health insurance marketplace, known as an exchange. There’s something to be said for that argument, because the parents are potentially able to buy private insurance that way. However, as we explained inyesterday’s blog post, some parents won’t be eligible for exchange subsidies, and some won’t be able to afford that private coverage (even with the subsidies), so thousands of parents now in BadgerCare are likely to become uninsured.

Among the parents who do manage to utilize the exchange coverage, most will have significantly higher costs for their coverage than they have now in BadgerCare. In addition, those parents and their children are likely to be split between between different insurance plans, and research indicates that the reduction in BadgerCare coverage for parents will result in fewer parents getting their kids signed up for BadgerCare.  

The tradeoff between covering more childless adults in BadgerCare and fewer parents might make some sense as a compromise if the state didn’t have a considerably better option. However, Wisconsin could cover far more people at considerably less cost to the state and the affected households by utilizing the financing provided by the ACA. A future blog post will explore the cost and coverage projections that support our conclusions.

The Walker Administration is pitching the plan by saying it would reduce the number of uninsured adults in the state by 224,000.  Keep in mind that  much of the estimated reduction in the uninsured comes from requirements in the ACA, such as the creation of exchanges, not because of the specific measures that the Governor has proposed.  In addition, I think that estimate is likely to be too high since some of the parents losing their BadgerCare coverage will become uninsured. 

In closing, let’s hope that the Governor’s proposal is the beginning of an ongoing effort to find the most cost-effective way to significantly improve access to insurance and reduce uncompensated care. As WCCF executive director Ken Taylor said today:

We applaud the Governor for wanting to improve access to care for some of the uninsured childless adults in Wisconsin, but we hope policymakers will take a careful look at other options that will serve more people at a substantially lower cost for the state.”

Jon Peacock

Sara Eskrich
Health Care Reform Project Coordinator
Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health
P.O. Box 1726
| Madison, WI | 53701-1726
[p] 608.251.0139 |[c] 608.669.6979 | [f] 608.256.3004
Support Women's Health - Make a Donation Today! 


Gov. Walker Turns Down Federal Medicaid Expansion

Updated: Feb 13, 2013 6:07 PM CST
Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican Governor Scott Walker says he won't expand Wisconsin's Medicaid services to 175,000 childless adults as the federal health care overhaul law allows.
Instead, Walker announced Wednesday a hybrid approach that he says will drop the state's uninsured non-elderly adults from 14 percent to 7 percent.
Walker's plan would tighten the income threshold to qualify for Medicaid, but also lift the cap on a program that covers childless adults. He says the net effect would insure 224,580 more people.
Walker was among the last Republican governors to decide whether to move forward with the expansion. Six Republican governors have agreed to the Medicaid expansion.   
Wisconsin's hospitals and many medical and health advocacy groups had urged Walker to accept the federal money to pay for the expansion of services.
The governor says his upcoming budget proposal includes entitlement reforms intended to make people less dependent on government assistance, such as requiring worker training for able people who are receiving food stamp assistance and increasing the number of required job searches to remain eligible for unemployment insurance.
"With these Medicaid reforms, we will preserve an essential safety net for our neediest, while protecting our state's taxpayers from uncertainty," the governor said in a written statement Wednesday. "In Wisconsin, we made tough, but prudent, decisions in the last two years to get our state on the right track.  We truly understand the consequences of avoiding tough choices.  Our plan safeguards Wisconsin taxpayers from unnecessary risk and builds on Wisconsin's strong track record of providing affordable health care to our people."
Reactions fell along party lines.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) said, "Governor Walker said we're not going to take the federal government's lead, we're going to try and solve it the Wisconsin way. And we're doing it by saying, number one, at the end of our program's implementation, 225,000 more people in Wisconsin are going to have insurance than they do today."
"In the end, if he's worried about costs down the road, I believe it was the Kaiser Foundation that send in ten years we would save $500 million, so it's a win-win; we insure almost everybody, if not everybody, creating 10,000 jobs. And I think we're making a mistake by not taking it all," Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said.
"If Governor Walker cared about building a strong middle class and a healthy workforce, he would accept all available funding to strengthen BadgerCare and give 175,000 more working Wisconsinites access to economic stability through affordable health care," Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson said in a written statement. "Had Governor Walker chosen another path, 175,000 more working Wisconsinites could have access to health care, reports show 10,500 new jobs could be created, and Wisconsin could save $495 million over the next 10 years."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Walker to announce decision on Medicaid expansion

WI State Wire

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker plans to announce Wednesday his much-anticipated decision on whether Wisconsin will expand its Medicaid services to cover 175,000 childless adults as allowed under the federal health care overhaul law.
Walker signaled last week that he may strike a middle path, not fully embracing the expansion allowed under the law championed by President Barack Obama but also making it possible for more people to get coverage under the state's BadgerCare Medicaid health programs.
"I think there's more than just a black or white," Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a Friday interview about the choices before him. "I think there's variations."
Walker is among the last Republican governors to decide whether to move forward with the expansion. Six Republican governors, including John Kasich in Ohio, already have agreed to the expansion while 11 other Republican governors have turned it down.
Walker's spokesman Cullen Werwie said Tuesday that the governor would announce his decision on Wednesday.
An outspoken opponent of the health care overhaul law, Walker previously declined to create a state-run marketplace for insurance providers, instead deferring to the federal government to create the exchange.
His decision on Medicaid expansion has been a tightly held secret within his administration leading up to the release of his state budget on Feb. 20. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Tuesday he had not been told what Walker's decision would be.
"I want to maintain the maximum flexibility for the state," Vos said, expressing concerns that the federal reimbursement rate to the state could be cut in future years, increasing costs.
Supporters of the Medicaid expansion pointed to an independent analysis by Wisconsin's nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released earlier this month that said the state could save nearly $66 million over three years by accepting the federal money under the expansion. The savings would come by replacing state money to cover childless adults with money from the federal government.
Democratic supporters have said that is too good of an opportunity to pass up.
An estimated 175,000 childless adults in Wisconsin were expected to qualify for Medicaid starting in 2014 under a full expansion as allowed under the law. To qualify, the household income must be below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,414 for an individual this year and $20,628 for a couple.
The federal government pays for all the expansion for three years, or $1.4 billion in Wisconsin, according to the Fiscal Bureau. After that, the federal reimbursement gradually declines to 90 percent. Through 2020, Wisconsin would receive nearly $4.4 billion in federal money, the Fiscal Bureau said.
Democrats and a broad array of labor groups, doctors, hospital, health providers and advocates for the poor have urged Walker to take the deal.
But Walker had repeatedly cited concerns about how much it may cost in the long run to pay for the expansion. While the federal government would pick up the tab for three years, costs to the state would gradually increase and eventually be 10 percent. Over four years, starting in 2016, new costs to the state would total about $133 million, the Fiscal Bureau said.

MJS Our View: We urge the governor to expand Medicaid program

We urge the governor to expand Medicaid program

A key provision of Obamacare is an expansion of this program for the poor. Wisconsin should not be left behind.

Feb. 11, 2013 6:05 p.m.
Wisconsin should expand its Medicaid program through the Affordable Care Act.
If Gov. Scott Walker decides to do that, more than 100,000 people would be affected, nearly all of them either unemployed or only working part time. That single act could save lives - and may save money in the long run if it leads to better health care.
While advocates for the poor argue passionately for the governor to take this step - and we agree it's the right one - the decision is not as clear-cut as those advocates would have you believe. There are risks in expanding the program, a decision that was left to the states by last summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld Obamacare. Walker is expected to announce his decision in a matter of days.
For one, while federal money covers the full cost of Medicaid expansion from 2014 to 2016, the federal share will gradually decline to 90% in 2020. There are concerns that even that 90% share might be in danger in an era of austerity, and even with a 90% match, the additional burden on the state purse would be substantial.
Critics are correct in arguing that expanding Medicaid does nothing to attack the very real problem of controlling out-of-control costs in the American health care system. They are also correct that shifting the burden from Wisconsin to the federal government doesn't relieve the state's taxpayers, who also pay federal taxes (although the state may be able to shift significant costs to the feds in future years).
And there surely are problems with access to health care for the poor - simply having insurance, whatever the form, does not ensure good care if there aren't enough physicians or clinics seeing the poor.
Nevertheless, Walker should expand the program.
Expansion of Medicaid is one of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The program would expand to include people with household incomes below 138% of the federal poverty line ($15,414 for an individual this year) who are not now eligible for coverage. BadgerCare - Wisconsin's Medicaid program - already is more generous than that, but many low-income people without children or whose kids are grown still fall between the cracks. Recently, the waiting list to get on BadgerCare ballooned to 140,000. Low-income folks don't have good options for affordable health insurance any other way - a lot of low-wage jobs simply don't provide it.
And while there surely will be an additional cost to the state's taxpayers after the initial period of federal support, those costs will be moderated if more of the poor are seen earlier and get better preventative health care. Left untreated, chronic illnesses such as diabetes only worsen - and get much more expensive to treat. Health insurance, in that sense, saves money. Yes, access is a problem in urban areas such as Milwaukee, but that's a separate challenge and is no argument for failing to cover people who need it. Expanding Medicaid also could reduce the cost of bad debt and charity care, although the extent of those savings isn't known.
In addition, the state would leverage billions of dollars more in federal assistance. The state would save $66 million in the first three years of the program but pay back those savings and pay up to $67 million more over the next four years, a nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau study shows. But an estimated $4.38 billion in federal money would become available to provide health care through 2020, the bureau reports.
Opponents of Medicaid expansion argue that a so-called "woodwork" effect will lead many people to sign up who currently are eligible but not receiving Medicaid. But as the Fiscal Bureau recently noted in its report, that is likely to happen anyway, whether Medicaid expands or not. And if they are eligible, they should be covered.
This can't be an easy call for a governor so opposed to Obamacare, but we think it's the right one and hope he sees it that way, too. Both sides agree that expanding Medicare will save lives. It will bring billions of dollars of federal money to a state that historically has lagged in that key category. The added expense, which will be moderated by better care and federal money, is worth it.

Media Reports on Walker BadgerCare Plans Disturbing

Milwaukee: According to media reports by Associated Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Governor Scott Walker will announce his decision Wednesday on whether to take billions of federal dollars to fill the holes in BadgerCare.  The information was initially leaked to conservative blogger Christian Schneider, who works for the right-wing Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.   The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Christian Schneider also say that Governor Walker will turn down the full Medicaid expansion, and pursue a “middle path.”

Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, made the following statement in response to these media reports:

“We know of no credible middle path that would result in guaranteeing coverage to low income Wisconsinites who currently fall between the cracks in the BadgerCare program. As far as we know, taking the new health care reform money for BadgerCare really is an all or nothing proposition, and has been treated as such by all credible health care experts across the country and the six conservative Governors who have already accepted the money.  Based on the fragmentary media reports we have seen, we are very concerned that spokespersons for the Governor are trying to pre-spin a decision that would that would have devastating consequences for the healthcare freedom and security of over 100,000 Wisconsinites.  We profoundly hope that these press reports turn out to be inaccurate.  If Governor Walker turns down billions in federal money for BadgerCare, there is no doubt that many Wisconsinites will die as a consequence.”

Sources: Gov. Scott Walker's Medicaid plan would expand coverage

For days, Democrats in the state Legislature have urged Gov. Scott Walker to allow Wisconsin to participate in a Medicaid expansion program under the federal Affordable Care Act - Obamacare.
Such a move would give Wisconsin access to "free" federal health care dollars, they argued, and provide more residents with health services under Medicaid.
Walker has decided not to do that, according to sources in his administration, but he will expand health services in the state, they say.
The centerpiece of Walker's plan will be lowering eligibility standards for some categories of Medicaid recipients, pushing those recipients into the new federal exchanges that will be set up under the ACA. That move opens more slots for childless adults in the Medicaid program.
Walker plans to remove the cap on the BadgerCare Plus Core Plan, currently set at 65,300 (although currently, only 22,300 individuals participate in the program.)
The administration projects that under Walker's plan, the net increase in Medicaid enrollment will be about 35,000 individuals. Officials estimate that when fully implemented, the state's uninsured population will decrease from 11.5% to 6%.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gov. Walker Announces Mental Health Funding in Upcoming Budget

Gov. Scott Walker has announced nearly $30 million in mental health funding as part of the upcoming state budget.
According to a news release from the governor's office, the programs would "enhance and expand services provided by state and local governments to individuals living with mental illness."
Here's a list of the programs:
  • Comprehensive Community Services (CCS): Expands intensive, targeted community-based care for adults and children with severe mental illness.  The CCS program delivers enhanced, individualized services helping reduce hospitalizations, improve primary health outcomes, improve relationships, increase meaningful employment, and improve overall life satisfaction.
  • Office of Children's Mental Health: Establishes an Office of Children's Mental Health focused on ensuring program policies and services are best meeting the needs of children throughout the state.  It will assist agencies in developing and delivering effective services for children.  The Office will coordinate initiatives, monitor program performance, and increase integration of services provided to children across all state agencies.
  • Coordinated Services Team (CST): Expands CST program statewide and funds CST coordinators on a regional basis to integrate and coordinate community-based care for juveniles in multiple systems of care.  Coordinated Services Teams provide wraparound models of care for children with behavioral health issues, as well as their families, when the children are involved in two or more systems of care, including mental health, long-term care, juvenile justice, child welfare, substance abuse, and special education systems.
  • Peer-Run Respite Centers: Develops Peer-Run Respite Centers to improve outcomes of individuals in crisis or individuals having difficulty coping with mental illness through services such as peer supports, 24/7 hotlines, wellness activities, respite, and hospital diversion.
  • In-Home Counseling for Children: Provides funding to broadly cover in-home counseling services under the Medicaid program.  Expanding coverage will allow earlier interventions, particularly for children and families with less acute conditions, and will make it easier for families to access necessary services, resulting in a reduction of out-of-home placements and improved outcomes for children.
  • Additional Forensic Units at Mendota Health Institute: Provides funding and positions to increase the capacity of the state forensic treatment units to meet the growing demand for inpatient evaluation and treatment services. 
Gov. Walker was quoted in the news release as follows:
"Earlier this year, I met with mental health professionals, advocates, and consumers from across Wisconsin, and they gave me some tremendous insights into the needs of people living with mental health challenges," said Governor Walker.  "Our budget investment will provide additional resources to improve and expand care, as well as give support to those living with mental illness and help individuals, families, and communities in Wisconsin live healthier and more productive lives."