Long Term Care Advocacy Team takes on a variety of issues --RSS Feed

By Julie Alexander, Lead Independent Living Services Coordinator
Now that 2017 has arrived, the Long Term Care Consumer Advocacy Team is busy planning for the year. There will be new issues and activities that our team will be working on in relation to long term care legislation that is proposed by the state and federal government. We are also planning a Brown Bag Lunch Educational Event on May 11 about Long Term Care options in Wisconsin. More details will be coming out soon. 

In 2016, our team was extremely active, taking on many intricate issues, and I wanted to take some time to recap our 2016 activities.
The Long Term Care Consumer Advocacy Team started 2016 by discussing the status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and advocacy opportunities relating to its passage in 2015-2016 by the federal government. One of our team members is keeping track of advocacy opportunities relating to this issue and will continue to update the committee on other advocacy that members can do relating to this issue. This team member also created a Powerpoint on key elements of the CRPD which could be used as a future presentation and/or event.
The Long Term Care Consumer Advocacy Team then started our work on educating ourselves on Family Care 2.0, which was a piece of proposed legislation that would have totally changed the long term care system in Wisconsin. We worked with others on this education process and also came up with a plan to testify to our elected officials about problems with Family Care 2.0. Family Care 2.0 was not very well defined and would have gotten rid of the current Family Care system, which served individuals well. Family Care 2.0 would have created a system in which insurance companies would likely have become administrators of the program, which is currently administered by eight nonprofit managed care organizations. We provided testimony to elected officials in Wisconsin about problems with this new piece of legislation and its implementation was put on hold in June 2016 by the Joint Finance Committee in Wisconsin.
The Long Term Care Consumer Advocacy Team also spent some time talking about the state of Wisconsin’s restructuring of the Medicaid system. This restructuring effort created the Division of Medicaid Services (DMS) which was created to streamline some of the programs that are currently in the Department of Health Services (DHS) and avoid duplication. Programs that moved to DMS include: Family Care, Family Care Partnership, IRIS, Birth to Three, Children’s Long Term Care Support Waivers and the Katie Beckett program. Our team talked about how this restructuring would affect people with disabilities and we provided input and comment to the state relating to this change.
Finally, the Long Term Care Consumer Advocacy Team organized and created a Medicare Brown Bag event (“The ABCs of Medicare”) which took place on September 29, 2016. During this event consumers and the general public heard a presentation from Elida Elizondo from the Social Security Administration about the basics of Medicare and what it covers. They then heard a presentation from Becky Visocky, a Benefits Specialist at IndependenceFirst, who talked about the importance of benefits counseling when individuals are looking at their Social Security benefits. The Brown Bag event ended with a presentation from Cindi Pichler, the Assistive Technology Senior Specialist at IndependenceFirst, who talked about Medicare assistive technology and Competitive Bidding in Wisconsin and problems with obtaining and servicing assistive technology because of this Competitive Bidding process. There was an advocacy opportunity presented to individuals attending this event for them to write to their elected officials about the impact of the Competitive Bidding process in obtaining and servicing their assistive technology devices. Fifty individuals with and without disabilities attended this event.
If you have any interest in working with us in 2017 to improve the lives of people with disabilities as we tackle new long term care issues or redefine issues that are coming up in new legislation or regulations set forth by state and federal legislators, please consider becoming part of our team. We always appreciate meeting with new people and gaining from their thoughts and insights. Our work is never done.
For more information, contact Julie Alexander at 414-226-8378 V/Relay.

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