Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day- Walker Admin Family Care incompetence may cost Wisconsin $900 million

This week could feature a bombshell in the recall election races, and not just because Walkergate criminal Darlene Wink is getting sentenced on Tuesday. The real event could be if the Obama Administration decides that the Walker Administration has not kept up with Medicaid rules on Family Care, and ends up yanking hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.

Here's how we got here. The Walker Administration was given a short-term waiver to implement the Family Care increases, and had until April 15 to tell the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMS) about how they would formally notify Wisconsinites eligible for Family Care about the program, and get the word out to senior centers and other Family Care providers. If the state fails to do this, then the CMS has the right to pull its share of Federal Medicaid funding from this program after Monday, which was would be a huge hit for the state, as the feds' help is estimated at $897 million in the most recently-completed fiscal year.

While DHS Secretary Dennis Smith released a letter last month which gave a good rundown of the state's long-term care programs, it didn't say anything about the CMS signing off on the state of Wisconsin's plan for outreach on Family Care. Smith has since sent letters that basically have said "Trust us, we're fine," but there has not been confirmation from the Feds agreeing with that.

State Rep. Jon Richards and other Legislative Democrats aren't buying Smith's story, and want the confirmation that the feds are cool with the DHS's plans laid out in writing. They're right to be skeptical, because we know the Walker people will deceive on this, because they already got caught lying about the Family Care program last December, when Walker held a press conference claiming that he was the one who decided to remove the Family Care caps, when in reality the Obama Administration told him to do it, or else lose the feds' money.

It's sure taken a while for that Family Care expansion to get itself moving. 10 days ago, a group idetnfying itself as an information group for "Northeast Wisconsin Family Care" said that DHS was still "catching up' on getting the people enrolled who were left off due the original caps, and couldn't enroll new people that were entitled to be on Family Care:
Although DHS has not yet set a date for expansion, we expect that they will make a decision on timing in the next few months. However, we are planning on expansion beginning during the third quarter of 2013 and occur by county over a 12 month period. We have not yet determined the timing by county.
In other words, DHS still hasn't put out a plan for adding seniors and disabled to the Family Care rolls, and are pushing off the expansion onto the next budget, despite being ordered to do it sooner than that.

No wonder the Barrett Campaign made the following call-out of the Walker Administration for its fake budget surplus announcement last week. This is the flip-side of the sketchy revenue numbers- intentionally understating spending that has to happen .
While Walker and his right wing allies gives themselves high-fives, the people of Wisconsin should know these numbers are built on sand. Almost half of this amount comes from delaying payments that will ultimately cost taxpayers more in interest. And these figures ignore the significant shortfall in the state's health programs.
We'll see if the Walker Administration has a CMS letter to produce tomorrow. But if there is nothing to release, and the Walker Administration lets this slide out of pure negligence, we need to slam it into the public consciousness. I have little confidence that our media will have the knowledge or independence to understand what kind of drastic damage this administration may be imposing, but this is a potentially huge story, as it could impact tens of thousands of Wisconsin families.

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