By Graham Kilmer
A provision within Governor Walker’s budget proposal could transfer the regional functions of Wisconsin’s Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) to a statewide system.
This fundamental change has some worried that the state’s “One-stop shop” for elderly and disabled longterm care may be dismantled in the near future.
According to Chester Kuzminski, the Milwaukee ADRC resource manager, in the event that the current system is transferred to a statewide private authority, the current regionally based service providers will not have sufficiently high risk reserves to meet the proposed new standard.
This in turn would open the door for private nationally based insurance companies to control the functions of Wisconsin’s ADRC’s.
A risk reserve is an allotment of reserve capital maintained for the possibility of uncertain increases in costs that may arise while providing services. “This smacks of a sell-out.” said Kuzminski.
According to a letter from members of the Wisconsin Long-Term Care Coalition addressed to State Senator Alberta Darling and Representative John Nygren, the governor’s proposal would eliminate, “counties rights of first refusal to operate a resource center, contracting with private, regional, or statewide providers for some or all of the ADRC services and eliminating the consumer driven governing board.”
According to Kuzminski, If the county boards and regional service providers are eliminated, the consumers will lose the oversight of their citizens and local government. ADRC governing boards are currently comprised of local elderly and disabled citizens.
At this moment there are 56 ADRCs serving 72 counties in Wisconsin. “Unfortunately, Governor Walker has proposed that ADRC’s do not need to operate in every county and that services could be provided on a statewide basis managed by a private for profit company,” said a statement released by State Senator John Erpenbach, “Local ADRC governing boards with elderly and disabled board members would simply be eliminated.”
In a February 15 memo sent by Brian Shoup, the Administrator of the Department of Health Services (DHS) Division of Long-Term Care, Shoup stated, “The ADRCs do not have a vested interest in the program or provider an individual chooses and so are able to offer unbiased and objective information about those choices.” Shoup also expressed that current ADRCs have the responsibility to inform a customer about their rights while participating in the program: “In order to prevent intimidation or coercion of a consumer by a provider.” “I’m at a loss for why this is happening.” said Kuzminski.
Kuzminski says the current model for long-term care services has been proven to save money. “Current service providers stay within their budgets,” said Kuzminski
The current administrative costs for the regional service providers are 4 percent of their budget.
The national average for large insurance companies is around 11 percent, according to Kuzminski. In 2014 the AARP released a report that ranked Wisconsin’s long-term care services the 8th highest in the nation.
The Wisconsin ADRC functions were tied for 4th place with Indiana, according to the same report. Governor Walker issued a state proclamation in 2014 dated May 11, which declared the month of May 2014 “Aging & Disability Resource Center Month”.
In the signed proclamation Governor Walker stated, “In 1998, Wisconsin became the first state to develop Aging and Disability Resource Centers and has served as a model for replication since 2003.”
Governor Walker wrote in his proclamation that he believes the assistance provided at ADRC, “helps individuals conserve personal resources, maintain self-sufficiency and prevent or delay more expensive long-term care.”