This is the text I've written and sent to seven different NE Wisconsin newspapers regarding changes to the IRIS program. While this text should not be copied word for word it may help provide others a base from which to craft their own letters. Feel free to ask me questions and I'll do my best to answer.
Governor Scott Walker has introduced his 2015-17 budget proposal and it is raising some concerns. Among the most alarming changes to the budget are the changes being proposed to Long Term Care services in Wisconsin.
Among the changes to LTC services is the elimination of the IRIS program. IRIS allows those with disabilities to decide where the funds that are available for their care are spent and in what ways they receive the support they need. IRIS, an option to the managed care organizations (MCO) of Family Care, serves over 11,000 people in Wisconsin and has successfully provided them with a measure of control over their own lives.
The Secretary of the Department of Human Services has said, in testimony before the Joint Committee on Finance, that IRIS is not in fact going away but rather being folded into an MCO. However, both the budget proposal and a Legislative Fiscal Board review of the budget confirm that IRIS is being eliminated. Furthermore the Secretary cannot provide those who use IRIS any idea what the program will look like after these proposals pass.
There are many in the state who believe these changes will streamline the programs and provide an integration of care. And they believe these changes will save money. Yet the Secretary in her testimony can provide no evidence of any savings to the state.
It is incumbent on area legislators to work to defeat these ill-conceived proposals. The disruption in the lives of those they serve is not worth the risk. Unless, and until, the Secretary can provide a real plan to make their lives better the proposed changes to IRIS should be voted down.
updated by @m-bubba-blume: 02/23/16 04:43:48PM