Friday, December 30, 2011

Family Care fiasco = everything we can't stand about Walker

I couldn't help but roar in laughter as Scott Walker's pathetic act this week at a press conference announcing the removal of Family Care enrollment limits. It's something that has all of the elements of what has made this administration such a failure.

1. Stupid ideological pose causes equally silly reversal- Capping the amount of elderly and disabled people who can enroll in a system that allows them to stay in their own homes is sick on its face, and the mark of a sociopath who views people as nothing but commodities. But then to turn around, reverse that policy, and then promise $80 million to go toward Family Care with no explanation of where the money will come from is beyond stupid. It's much like how $500 million in Medicaid cuts were slipped into the state budget, and then the details worked out later on how to throw 64,000 people off of Badger Care. Just saying something will happen isn't the same as actually making it happen.

2. Shooting first, dealing with the fallout later - This is a recurring theme with this administration. Instead of figuring out if they actually could continue to receive federal Medicaid funding if they cut people off of Family Care, the Walker boys just went ahead and did this. That's the most interesting part of the letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to the Wisconsin DHS to me.
Please note that these types of waiver amendments, even if potentially approvable, may receive only a prospective approval date. Until specific approval of an amendment is received, the State is required to continute to operate the waiver as described in the currently-approved 1915(c) waiver application...

Because the currently approved waiver includes an entitlement to waiver services, we are instructing the State t operate the waiver as it was approved by CMS.
In other words, you don't get to change the caps until we tell you you can change the caps. So now all these individuals are rightfully put onto Family Care with no way to pay for it.

It is strongly reminiscent of the fuck-up involving high-speed rail, when the Walker folks tried to insist rail money could be used for highways, and the Federal Railroad Administration had to remind them that no, rail money is for...rail, and Wisconsin taxpayers ended up paying millions more than they otherwise would have and got less for it. The Walker Administration is either so arrogant or stupid that they are incapable of realizing the strings attached to federal money- while constantly attaching strings like tax levy limits and Act 10 requirements to local governments.

3. The lies and the lying spin - This is the most egregious part. It was bad enough when the press conference was first held, and it seemed like a cynical move designed to soften up Walker's image among a voting populace that already views him as a scumbag. But then when it came out that Walker was lying about why the caps were lifted (because the Feds told him to, not because he wanted to), DHS Administration Secretary (and deceitful Heritage Foundation hack) Dennis Smith followed up with this pathetic press release trying to weasel out of this embarrassment and claim no wrongdoing.
"The sole person responsibile for yesterday's announcement on lifting the Family Care caps is Governor Walker. The Governor stated publicly severeal times that he was committed to Wisconsin's seniors and disabilities with his intention to lift the cap by the end of the year...

Critics who are not involved in our discussions with our federal partners at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are choosing to ignore the months of work we have done to get us to the point of yesterday's announcement. The Governor also announced we would be expanding the program to counties previously not served by Family Care, a decision that goes beyond any procedural matters raised by CMS."
WHAT A WHINY, LYING BITCH! Untrue that this was all Walker's decision, and then whining over "critics" who dare to tell people how things really went down. If you don't like the job, Denny, GET THE HELL OUT and go back to D.C. where you bubble-thinkers belong.

4. The aftereffects after the move - The "expansion to other counties" may also be a disaster in the making, because Dane County Exec Joe Parisi did a good job trying to cut off Walker at the pass with his own letter to Dane County state legislators asking that Dane County not be part of any Family Care expansion. The reason why? Dane County already handles long-term home care services at a level above and beyond Family Care, and Parisi's predicting that Walker might use this Family Care expansion as a mandate to make Dane County cut its level of services.

It wouldn't be out of the question for the low-lifes in the Walker Administration to try to pull a stunt like that, under the guise of "efficiencies" and "improvements" for Family Care. It's why we have to keep an eye on what the proposal that comes out of covering the new enrollees in Family Care really is once it goes into the Joint Finance Committee, and see if anything else is cut or "lapsed" as a result. It's been this Adminsitration SOP to assume the average Wisconsinites is as stupid as the average talk-radio listener, and won't look too deeply as to what will really happen in the bill, and that's the time we need to be most vigilant and remind people of why we're in this mess in the first place.

So if someone has been out of the state for a year and is asking "Well, why do people hate Scott Walker?", just show them the 4 different types of wrongdoing that this one Family Care incident illustrates. And it's why we have to end it now, before the damage gets deeper and tougher to get out of.

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