Legislature's budget committee approves expansion of popular "Family Care" program

MADISON (AP) — The Legislature's budget committee has approved expanding Wisconsin's popular Family Care program that provides in-home care to seven northeastern counties.

Family Care offers a variety of programs through Medicaid for long-term care for the disabled and elderly, helping to keep them out of nursing homes.

The Joint Finance Committee voted unanimously Wednesday, November 12th to pay for expanding the program to Brown, Kewaunee, Door, Menominee, Oconto, Marinette and Shawano counties between March and June. About 4,000 people in those counties are expected to qualify.

The program is operating in 57 counties and serves about 48,000 people.

Governor Scott Walker imposed a Family Care enrollment cap in 2011 but the federal government ordered him to remove that lid in December 2014. Walker announced at the time he wanted to expand the program statewide.

The co-chairs of the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance, State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) issued the following statement:

"Family Care is a popular Wisconsin program that increases access to care without increasing costs. Wednesday's expansion was exhaustively researched, discussed and passed with wide bi-partisan agreement.

We support providing care for seniors and disabled individuals who are truly in need. It is our belief that DHS will implement the expansion of this long-term care program in a fiscally responsible manner. We are proud Wisconsin continues to lead the way in health care reform, as Washington reforms continue to fail."