We will continue to update the various issue pages on this site until they reflect the final budget project signed into law by Governor Walker. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to be alerted about any updates to this site. Once all of the content on this site is updated, we will format the information into a final report on the Wisconsin State Budget Impact on Wisconsin Women and Girls, just as we did for the 2011-2013 and 2013-2015 state budgets.
In the meantime, please read below for important updates regarding the Governor’s vetoes on long-term care, drug testing FoodShare recipients, and BadgerCare.
The Governor’s proposed budget contained many drastic changes to Wisconsin’s successful long-term care programs for people with disabilities and the elderly. The Governor’s budget proposed to transition from the current regionalized model that is run by not-for-profit managed care organizations to a statewide model that could be potentially run by for-profit insurance companies that could possibly result in individuals having to change their doctors, caretakers, and even the group homes where they reside.
The Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) altered the Governor’s proposal by requiring the Department of Health Services (DHS) to maintain at least five managed care regions, which at least partially addressed some of the concerns raised by advocates.
The Governor vetoed this requirement to maintain a minimum of five managed care regions, which raised immediate concerns from advocates with people with disabilities that Wisconsin’s long-term care programs would be transitioned to a statewide model run by for-profit insurance companies, thus undermining the existing model that has worked very well for Wisconsinites with long-term care needs.
For more detailed information regarding future of Wisconsin’s long-term care programs under the new model passed in the state budget, please see this Frequently Asked Question resource from the Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations.
Drug Testing of FoodShare Recipients
One of the more troubling aspects of Governor Walker’s budget were his many proposals to require that applicants for and recipients of many different public benefits programs be subjected to drug screening, and if indicated by the drug screening, drug testing in order to be eligible for benefits. In addition to being constitutionally dubious, there is little evidence that these proposals would do much to help people with substance abuse disorders.
The Governor’s veto eliminated the requirement that drug testing of FoodShare Employment and Training participants who are able-bodied adults without dependent children and are subject to FoodShare work requirements be done only if there is a "reasonable suspicion" the recipient was using drugs. This is troubling because in order for such drug testing requirements of public benefits recipients to pass constitutional muster, there must be a reasonable suspicion that the person is using illegal drugs. As a result, this suspicionless testing of all applicants and participants of this program is likely to face an uphill legal battle if it is challenged in court.
In addition, the Governor also vetoed the Legislature’s requirement that the state pay for any drug treatment for those applicants or enrollees who test positive for drugs. The Governor’s veto would mandate that state-funded treatment would only be available if the individual did not have health insurance coverage that would pay for the treatment.
The Governor’s proposed budget required DHS to request approval from the federal government to make significant changes to Wisconsin’s state Medicaid program that provides health insurance to low-income individuals and families, known as BadgerCare. Under the proposed budget, DHS would ask the federal government for permission to implement the following changes in regard to childless adults on the program:
· Require childless adults to pay monthly premiums
· Require childless adults who engage in risky health behavior, as determined by a health risk assessment, even higher premiums
· Limit lifetime program eligibility for childless adults to 48 months, regardless of their health care condition or their ability to afford other health insurance coverage
The changes would be unprecedented and likely devastating to those childless adults who rely on the program, who make $11,770 or less a year in order to be eligible.
The JFC placed minimal reporting requirements on DHS to provide some information to the JFC regarding DHS’ federal waiver request. Under the JFC’s proposal, DHS would provide a summary of the provisions of their federal waiver request and estimate the fiscal impact of these provisions if implemented to the JFC before submitting the request to the federal government. If the federal government approved any provisions of DHS’ waiver request, DHS would provide the JFC with a report summarizing any provision approved by the federal government and an estimate the fiscal impact of those approved provisions.
Citing concerns that these requirements were “administratively burdensome,” the Governor vetoed these reporting requirements.