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Legislation: Wisconsin: Special Report: 2011-2013 Budget Bill
In this report we are including more information on the following: on what is in the bill, how will the bill impact you, and what positions are disability advocacy groups taking?
Action Alert! April 7-13, 2011 - The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has scheduled four public hearings on the Biennial Budget Bill and will receive written comments
For information on the Public Hearings, go to our page on Wisconsin Legislation Action Alerts!
For more information on the Joint Finance Committee's public hearing schedule, go to http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/jfc/schedule.htm
What is in the Bill? How Will the Bill Impact You? What Positions are Disability Advocacy Groups Taking?
2011-2013 - Wisconsin Budget would make important changes that will impact Medicaid
The following has been sent from an action alert by the DAWN (Disability Advocates Wisconsin Network):
The State Senate and State Assembly the The Governor's Budget Repair Bill was to assist government to deal with the
budget deficit in the current fiscal year. The bill contains an
important change that will impact Medicaid and the 1.1 million Medicaid recipients across the state.
The bill as amended would allow the Governor and Joint Finance Committee
to make changes to the Medicaid program without legislative oversight or public input.
The changes in the Governor's Budget could be to recipients of Medicaid including eligibility for children, parents and uninsured adults, reduced services and benefits in programs that serve elderly and persons with disabilities, including BadgerCare, SeniorCare, Family Care, children's
waivers and other vital programs or changes in co-pays and premiums without legislative oversight or any public input.
For example, the Governor and Joint Finance Committee could decide to
increase cost sharing by program participants and allow providers to deny
services to people who couldn’t pay the cost share. These changes would
have an enormous impact on adults and children with disabilities and
others who depend on these services every day.
The Budget Bill is calling for $500 million in unspecified cuts/savings from Medicaid (and about $750 to $800 million federal match), relative to a cost-to-continue budget. Also $15 million cut from SeniorCare and $96 million from centralizing, automating, and privatising "income maintenance" for Food Share, SSI support and child support will move from Department of Health Services to Department of Children and Families.
Disability advocates believe that any changes to the Medicaid program
must be made with public input and the involvement of the entire
legislature. They believe that these Medicaid provisions should be taken
out of the budget repair bill.
If Wisconsin proposed changes are not federally approved, possibly up to 70,000 people may lose coverage on BadgerCare. DHS has indicated interest in changes to BadgerCare that increase costs for consumers, restricts eligibility, and reduces services covered.
What can I do?
Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 2 for Medicaid
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will accept comments on Medicaid programs.
Testimony will also be accepted via email to DHS Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades at DHSDeputySecretaryKittyRhoades@dhs.wisconsin.gov or via U.S. mail to Secretary Dennis Smith, Room 650, 1 W. Wilson St., Madison, WI, 53703.
2011-13 Wisconsin Budget threatens drastic cuts to public transit
The 2011 Biennial State Budget proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker could have a devastating impact on the public transportation services relied upon by Wisconsin residents with disabilities. As it stands now, the state budget (AB 40 and SB27) not only reduces state transit aid by 10%, but will also move the $107 million segregated transportation fund to the general fund. This move will make this money available for any number of other services, which are also facing severe cuts, including education, Badger Care, and Medicaid. If this money is reallocated to these programs, very little will remain for transit; leading to drastically reduced service hours and routes for the bus lines and paratransit.
This vital link to your place of employment, your doctor, your grocery store, your church, your community, could become much harder to come by.
That is why you must contact your state legislators and ask them to preserve the transportation fund and to preserve your freedom to access your community and contribute to the state’s economy.
What can I do?
Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 7 for Transportation
2011-2013 Wisconsin Budget cuts general school aid and less support for Special Education
With more than $800 million cut in general school aid, the 2011 Biennial State Budget proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker could lead to less supports for, and greater segregation of, special education students. Local school districts will be forced to make drastic cuts, leading to larger class sizes and less hands-on assistance for students who require special accommodations for learning. The budget will also reduce local revenue caps by 5.5%, making it extremely difficult for local districts to raise money locally. Despite these drastic cuts to public education, the Governor is proposing a $40 million increase for school choice, charter schools and open enrollment, and extending these options to families with much higher incomes. Special education students are often not afforded the luxury of taking advantage of such options and therefore will not benefit from this funding increase.
If you have a child that is receiving special education services, it is imperative that you contact your legislators and let them know how these cuts will impact your child's ability to succeed in school and life itself. The services your child receives now will lay the groundwork for the rest of their lives. We must fight for our children's rights to receive a decent public education that will allow them to excel now and into the future!
What can I do?
Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 3 for Special Education
2011-2013 Wisconsin State Budget freezes Family Care jeopardizing community services for Long Term Care
Expansion of Family Care, Family Care Partnership, and IRIS
to new counties is halted as of July 1, 2011 unless DHS finds that the
programs reduce costs. In addition, enrollment in counties that have the
programs is capped at the enrollment level as of June 30, 2011. No new
people can enroll in Family Care, Family Care Partnership, IRIS, or Pace
except through attrition.
Family Care Ombudsman Program: are planned to fund at current levels.
Institutional care remains an entitlement.
Because of the enrollment freeze, people currently enrolled will remain as participants, however those on waiting lists will continue to wait and the cap will cause new waiting lists in counties that ended waiting lists years ago. With the support of Family Care, Partnership, PACE and IRIS you are living and working in the most integrated setting. Family Care offers community services, consumer choice and a right to service without waiting.
What can I do?
Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 1 for Long Term Care
The Department of Health Services will accept comments on Long Term Care budget changes.
Testimony will be accepted via email to DHS Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades at DHSDeputySecretaryKittyRhoades@dhs.wisconsin.gov or via U.S. mail to Secretary Dennis Smith, Room 650, 1 W. Wilson St., Madison, WI, 53703.
2011-2013 Wisconsin State Budget cuts county shared revenue for youth aids undermining services for Mental Health Programs
Cuts to community based services will result in cuts to mental health services, which supports people in crisis. The consequences will result in higher costly inpatient services.
What can I do?
Check out the Survival Coalition’s Budget Talking Points. See page 5 for Mental Health
2011-2013 Wisconsin State Budget repeals progressive changes from the last session that benefit many inmates in Corrections with disabilities and mental illness
Inmates with disabilities and mental illness will no longer be able to petition for an earned release which passed during the last legislative session.
The Bill cuts aid to counties for youth programs, such as juvenile
justice, by 10%. Closing juvenile corrections institutions will separate families from their children.
What can I do?
2011-2013 Wisconsin State Budget centralizes, automates and privatizes Access to Benefits
The proposed budget will centralize, automate and privatize Income Maintenance for benefit programs at the state level instead of at the existing county level. Transfer Food Share, SSI support and Child Support from the Department of Health Services to the Department of Children and Families.
People who apply for benefits such as Food Share, Medicaid, Family Care and BadgerCare will have limited access to an actual person at the local level for assistance to apply for these programs. Each program is very complex; people with disabilities may need assistance or may not have access to computers or the Internet.
What can I do?
Wisconsin Council on Children and families offers 5 Steps for a Successful Meeting with a Legislator and Helpful Hints for Different Kinds of Advocacy.
What Can I Do to Advocate on Disability Issues in the Wisconsin State 2011-2013 Budget?
Advocates are recommending the following to continue to address and give suggestions for the Wisconsin State Budget.
- Write your story.
- Review disability advocacy groups position papers and incorporate facts that are part of your personal story.
- Attend the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee's public hearing in your area. Submit your comments in written format to the Committee.
- If you plan to attend one of the hearings, be certain to check out the 5 Steps for A Successful Meeting with a Legislator, provided by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
- The Wisconsin Legislature Joint Finance Committee hearings provide an opportunity to testify before legislators (who will make spending decisions) on items like Medicaid, special education, transportation, mental health, long term care, corrections, and local funding.
- The committee will take testimony at these hearings, however they draw a large crowd and one does not get very much time to speak.
If you decide to testify, remember you will only have 3 minutes and so it is best to be prepared.
For more information on Tips for Testifying:
The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee will stop taking testimony at the end time listed, be prepared to provide your input in other ways. Bring a 16 copies of your testimony to the hearing and submit them to the Committee.
Submit your comments as soon as possible or by April 15.
To send written comments via e-mail, send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To send written comments via US mail, send to: Joe Malkasian, Room 305 East, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53703.
Write the Committee by April 15, 2011
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will accept comments on medical assistance programs.
Testimony will also be accepted via email to DHS Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades at DHSDeputySecretaryKittyRhoades@dhs.wisconsin.gov or via U.S. mail to Secretary, Dennis Smith, Room 650, 1 W. Wilson St., Madison, WI, 53703.
Contact Governor Walker and your Wisconsin State Legislators. To call or e-mail your legislators, find your Wisconsin State legislators and their contact information: Who Are My Legislators?
Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.
Contribute to blogs from the newspaper, tv, radio and other media to get your suggestions known.
Join advocacy groups and learn more about what more you can do.
Stay on Top of Legislation that Impacts You
Take Action is a new way to stay in touch with your representatives regarding legislation that may impact you. While it is a national tool, DAWN, has developed it to focus on Wisconsin Legislation. Visit www.dawninfo.org to stay on top of important 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! Sign up today, visit http://Notify.legis.state.wi.us.
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[Updated April 8, 2011]
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