Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wisconsin County Human Services Association Letter to Kathleen Sebelius re: Family Care

The letter is here.

William H. Orth, WCHSA President
Sauk County Dept. Of Human Services
P.O. Box 29
Baraboo, WI  53913
Phone: 608-355-4212   Fax: 608-355-4299

WCHSA -Wisconsin County Human Services Association
June 30, 2011
Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary, US Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C.  20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius:
I am writing on behalf of the Wisconsin County Human Services Association (WCHSA) regarding the recent action taken by the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Scott Walker concerning the Federal Medicaid Waiver Program, Family Care.  This action, contained in the recently signed 2011-2013 state budget would end entitlement and once again establish waiting lists of vulnerable, frail elderly, physically disabled, and developmentally disabled individuals.  The burden for providing necessary services for those on the waiting list would fall to local property tax payers, because all of the federal and state funding has been shifted to the managed care organizations operating Family Care.

The Wisconsin County Human Services Association is the primary organization representing county human/social service departments and boards in Wisconsin.  WCHSA established a position opposing the Family Care changes several months ago in an attempt to persuade the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor to abandon the attempt to change Family Care.  In spite of joining with more than 70 other state-wide and regional consumer and service provision organizations to oppose this legislation our attempts were unsuccessful.

Thus, we are asking you to deny the anticipated request from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to amend the Family Care Waiver.  The changes proposed would not only hurt vulnerable Wisconsin citizens, but will also increase the burden on Wisconsin tax payers.   Thank you and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


William H. Orth
WCHSA President
Cc:  Senator Herb Kohl
        Representative Tammy Baldwin

Promoting best practice, creating professional alliances, and developing partnerships in service delivery

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The True Human Cost of Gov Walker's Budget and Family Care

The Winnebago County Human Services Board just finished the initial budget review for 2012. The freeze in Family Care participation for the biennium will cause real pain for the elderly and developmentally disabled in Winnebago County.

Winnebago County currently has about 1200 Winnebago County residents in Family Care. This level has been frozen for the next 2 years in the Governors budget as of July 1. We currently have a waiting list for services with 306 residents qualifying and in need of assistance.

26 people needing services to survive are added to the waiting list monthly. These are low income people that are part of the growing generation of senior citizens, developmentally disabled children who have turned 18 and need to begin to utilize services as an adult or who have become disabled.

At the same time, 9 residents are removed from Family Care services due to "attrition" and an average of 3 residents are removed from the waiting list due to "attrition" monthly.

What does "attrition" really mean?

"Attrition" is death. On average, 91% of all Winnebago County residents who leave either the Family Care service or waiting list, do so because of their death. When Family Care was sold to counties, it was to remove waiting lists.

Winnebago County was supposed to be at zero waiting list next year (we were at near zero when we established Family Care, the current waiting list is an aberration).

This is the true cost of Gov Scott Walker's and the GOP legislature's budget. If you add the numbers above together, Gov Walker's budget will result in the deaths of 66 people as they wait for service. Our waiting list (those surviving) will more than double, from 320 to 642 vulnerable, poor Winnebago County residents waiting for services they qualify for and need to survive.

As it is outlined in the WI Legislative Fiscal Bureau's May 24th report:
It is the administration's intent that any program openings created through natural attrition and disenrollment may be filled by new enrollees.
As for who is covered by Family Care? Sauk County Social Worker Jim Pritzkow said it well here:
About half are frail elderly with the remaining 50 percent split between people with physical disabilities and those with developmental disabilities.
They must also qualify due to income. So on top of being a frail senior citizen or someone with physical or developmental disabilities, they must also be poor, very poor.

These are the people who will suffer, wait and die due to the budget that was passed. This is the true cost of Gov Walker's budget in Winnebago County, and across Wisconsin.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Let's All Make New Friends"
at this year's

Sunday, June 12, noon to 4 p.m.
Abe Rochlin Park
(corner of Oshkosh Avenue and Sawyer Street
co-sponsored by:
Oshkosh Area Community Foundation
Oshkosh Baha'i Community
Division of Academic Support - UW Oshkosh
Multicultural Center at UW Oshkosh
Oshkosh Diversity Council

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Statement at the We Are Wisconsin Press Event Today

In Febuary 2011, Gov Scott Walker dropped a bomb on WI Citizens and taxpayers.  The “Budget Repair Bill” took money, services and rights from middle class and working families, students, children, City and County Services, Bus Lines, the elderly, the disabled, and the environment.

These groups, when you add them together make up the vast majority of Oshkosh, Winnebago County and the Great State of WI.

This package of bills in the initial ‘special session’ of the WI Legislature not only removed these rights, funds and services from those who most need and deserve them, but the series of bills turned many of these funds over the wealthiest and least needing of these funds. 
Gov. Scott Walker did not do this alone; he had a well-placed ally in the WI State Senate and on the powerful joint finance committee - Senator Randy Hopper. 

But, I would like to clear the air.  Many people have since said that Senator Randy Hopper was following Gov. Scott Walker without question – going along with marching orders from his party and his Governor.  I disagree, I do not think that was what Senator Hopper was ‘going along’.

Senator Hopper was leading the way on these family and job destroying policies.  He was a co-sponsor or author of many of them.

Now, as Scott Walker’s anti-WI, anti-poor, anti-family, anti-worker, anti-job budget is released from Sen Hopper’s Joint Finance Committee, it is no longer Gov Walker’s budget, It is Senator Randy Hopper’s Budget.

Randy Hopper supported most of the anti-WI Family, Student, and Community provisions in the budget, and made several of them worse.

He has also introduced legislation and budget amendments gutting the State of WI’s ability to collect revenue funding services for City Busses, plowing, garbage collection, County Human Services for the frail elderly, vulnerable disabled and birth to 3 development programs, to name a few. 

His attack on worker and family rights to make a decent middle class living will not only harm those workers and families, but as I stand here on the gateway to the revitalized Oshkosh Main St, I am reminded that everyone of these families, elderly, disabled individuals and students are their customers.  The shock to Oshkosh’s economy when the city can no longer afford to run the busses that bring their customers here, and if they get here, these customers will no longer have the funds to shop at their places of business.

You see, this is where jobs are created in the markets and by everyday consumers.  By limiting funds to cities and counties, the services we provide to encourage local business will stop.  By cutting pay and protections of state workers, we not only lose the money they spend in the local economy, but the comparables that are used for pay in the private sector locally.  The pay scale of a professional working in the Bank Building across the street is directly affected by the pay of professionals at the university.

When Rany Hopper cut the Homestead Credit for people who earn less than $24,500 a year and the Earned Income Tax Credit – a $20 million dollar tax increase on working families he denies Oshkosh business the local funds that many families spend here on Main St, Oregon St, the frontage roads and throughout our local economy.  These are jobs, revenues for schools and security for our citizens that Randy Hopper has shipped away.

I will end my remarks with the statement I made to Sen Hopper’s Committee on Joint Finance at the Neenah hearing: “The budget is a moral statement.” Sen Randy Hopper has decided it is moral to balance the budget at the expense of the vulnerable, students, city and county services and all, public and private who go to work every day hoping their sweat, time, talent and knowledge will create a better future for their families and communities. 

Those are not Oshkosh Morals.  Those are not Winnebago County Values.

And that is not the WI Heritage I learned.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oshkosh Police Collect Unwanted Cell Phones (From Email Update)

From Oshkosh Police Dept's Team 2 Newsletter:

Just a reminder that OPD, along with other law enforcement agencies in Winnebago County, collect unwanted cell phones. We realize three benefits:
* Discarded cell phones are processed/recycled by a company who returns a fee to us for each phone. The income goes to the Winnebago Crime Prevention Fund at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. This fund helps to support a wide variety of crime prevention projects and equipment needs.* The recycling company provides us with refurbished cell phones that are distributed to senior citizens or others in the community who may not be able to afford a cell phone for emergency use. The phones are programmed for 9-1-1- use only.* By donating the unwanted cell phones to OPD, we keep the discarded phones out of the local landfill.
It's a win-win-win opportunity. You can drop off your unwanted cell phones to Officer Nichols' office anytime. Thanks

To sign up for an Oshkosh Police Team Newsletter click here.

Bishops to Senate GOP: Don't Vote For "Morally Indefensible" Ryan Budget

"Unlike the Good Samaritan, who stopped to care for a wounded stranger on the side of the road, the House budget turns its back on the most vulnerable at a time of grave economic uncertainty even as it endorses policies that gives tax breaks for the privileged few."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Winnebago County Exec Mark Harris: Cut in child support program hurts children

From the OshNW:

Winnebago County Exec Mark Harris: Cut in child support program hurts children

I read with great disappointment of the state joint finance committee's 12 to 4 vote in support of a $4.25 million cut in funding for county child support enforcement. Nationally about one fourth of all children are raised in one parent households. It is in the public interest that the non-custodial parent help to support their children. Some of these parents only will pay with child support orders and county enforcement efforts. Counties collect six to ten dollars of otherwise uncollected child support for every dollar spent on enforcement. The cut in state funding for the program also reduces the amount of federal funds available for child support enforcement. Winnebago County stands to loose over $370,000 or about 30 percent of its child support enforcement budget because of this decision. The impact on the children in these families is potentially devastating. The legislature should not allow this cut to stand.

Mark L. Harris

Winnebago County Executive

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wisconsin Council on Children and Families Memo on Child Support Enforcement Funding

April 25, 2011
To: Joint Finance Committee members
From: Ken Taylor, WCCF executive director, and Jon Peacock, WCCF research director
Subject: Child support enforcement (LFB paper #226)

We hope you will support alternative 2 in LFB paper #226, for the following reasons:

Money spent on child support enforcement has a great return on the investment:

Each additional state dollar spent for child support leverages almost $2 in federal matching funds (specifically $1.94).

According to the LFB memo (p. 4, discussion point # 2), child support agencies brought in an average of $6.82 in child support for each dollar expended in 2009.

Based on those figures, each GPR dollar invested in child support enforcement generates an average of about $20 in child support collected (i.e., $2.94 x 6.82, which assumes that the 2009 ratio of $6.82 per dollar spent is maintained).

Without the $4.25 million increase in state GPR funding proposed in Alternative #2, child support enforcement spending would decline by $12.5 million in the 2011-13 biennium.

Counties are being squeezed fiscally from all directions and won’t be able to offset the net cut under the Governor’s proposal.

Milwaukee County alone expects to have to cut 38 workers, or 28 percent of current child support staff in calendar year 2012 if the Governor’s proposal is approved.

As counties reduce their child support enforcement activities, their performance will almost certainly decline, which will reduce future federal performance-based incentive payments, causing a downward spiral in child support enforcement. (See LFB discussion point #14.)

Even without taking into account the added complication of a potential loss of federal incentive payments, a $12.5 million reduction in combined state and federal funding for child support enforcement could reduce collections by about $85 million over the next two years (if the decline in collections is proportionate to the decline in spending for enforcement activities).1

1 The yield on the $12.5 million may be less than the average return (of $6.82 per dollar) on enforcement spending, based on a principle of diminishing returns, and that would mean that the $85 million figure from our math exercise overestimates the actual impact. On the other hand, failing to take into account the likely loss of federal incentive dollars cuts in the other direction and understates the potential impact on collections.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall: Statement to Joint Finance Committee Neenah hearing

Neenah, WI – Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall delivered the following remarks to the Joint Finance Committee at the Neenah Budget Public Hearing:

Hello, my name is Jef Hall.  I am an elected member of the Winnebago County Board, a proud resident of the city of Oshkosh, a member of the Winnebago County Human Services Board and the Vice-Chair of the Winnebago County Aging and Disabilities Resource Center.

Today I mainly want to talk to you mainly about Family Care, and the freeze in Family Care in the new budget.  We in Winnebago County got in the Family Care business just recently, because we were guaranteed an end to waiting lists.  In Winnebago County we never really had long waiting lists.  We like to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves… because it is the right thing to do.

However, freezing enrolments in for Family Care in the new budget can only increase waiting lists.  We have a growing population of frail elderly as well as a growing population overall.  When the state dictates there can be no one new in the program, you can only increase waiting lists.  Let’s discuss who Family Care covers.  It covers poor, frail elderly and adult developmentally disabled people who do not have the financial and physical means to care for themselves.

This budget freezes enrollees to Family Care, only allowing new people to enroll due to attrition.  So, let’s define attrition.  83 members of our Family Care District left the program since it was established.  91% of them, 76 were due to death.  That’s what attrition is.

This budget sets up a system where one group of poor frail elderly and developmentally disabled people are forced to wait for another group of poor, frail elderly and developmentally disabled people to die before they can get the services they need to survive.

This is not the right thing to do.  The budget is a moral statement.  And I urge you to look inside yourselves before you make any changes to Family Care, Medicare or any program set up to help those poor frail elderly, developmentally disabled or other people who do not have the financial or physical means to care for themselves.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

U.S. Sen. Kohl: Administration should protect SeniorCare program


Contact: Joe Bonfiglio
Phone: (202) 224-5364
Tells Secretary Sebelius to hold firm to current program waiver

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senator Herb Kohl urged Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to deny any request to change Wisconsin’s popular prescription drug program, SeniorCare. In 2007 and 2009, Kohl fought to extend the SeniorCare program, which was established by Gov. Tommy Thompson in 2002. In a telephone conversation earlier today, Kohl asked the Secretary to preserve the current federal SeniorCare waiver, negotiated by Kohl; any change to the program must be approved by the HHS Secretary.

“SeniorCare has proven to be an efficient, cost-effective choice for Wisconsin seniors. It would be a mistake to dismantle this program, which provides exceptional coverage while saving consumers, taxpayers and the state money. I’m confident that the Administration recognizes the value of SeniorCare,” Kohl said.

SeniorCare Fact Sheet

SeniorCare saves Wisconsin seniors money every day
With a $30 annual enrollment fee, copayments ranging from $5 to $15 and no gaps in coverage, SeniorCare provides more comprehensive and less expensive coverage than Medicare Part D.

SeniorCare saves Taxpayers money every day
According to the Department of Health in Wisconsin, in 2009, the average annual federal cost per enrollee for SeniorCare was $588, less than half the $1,690 federal government spent to subsidize a Part D participant. SeniorCare negotiates lower drug prices and saved $50 million in 2009 alone. SeniorCare currently has a $20 million surplus that the State of Wisconsin wants to use to plug the budget deficit.

The state plan to change SeniorCare will boost drug company profits at the expense of Wisconsin’s lowest income seniors
Because Medicare Part D does not negotiate drug prices, most, if not all, Wisconsin seniors enrolled in SeniorCare would see the cost of their medicines rise. Wisconsin would no longer receive drug rebates through negotiation, further padding drug company profits.

Any change to SeniorCare must be approved by the Health and Human Services Secretary
Under the terms of the 1115 Medicaid waiver that authorizes the program, changes to SeniorCare are prohibited without federal approval.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Poor and Vulnerable hurt by Walker Budget

Winnebago County's Deputy Director of Human Services Ellen Shute said children, seniors, disabled, mentally disabled and the poor would be hit hard by proposed Medicaid, SeniorCare, BadgerCare and social support program cuts. In Winnebago County, she said the budget proposal would impact eligibility requirements and co-pays for:

— 18,000 BadgerCare participants.
— 1,900 SeniorCare participants.
—1,400 blind and other disabled residents.
— 14,000 FoodShare participants. And
— Create a 690-person waiting list for FamilyCare services by July 2013.

"This will impact all their abilities to access essential services," Shute said. "They will feel that crunch."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall: Statement to Joint Finance Committee

Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall: Statement to Joint Finance Committee

Contact: Jef Hall - 920.203.6883 –

Madison, WI – Today, Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall delivered the following remarks to the Joint Finance Committee at the Budget Repair Bill Public Hearing:

Thank you for taking the time to listen to testimony today.

My name is Jef Hall. I am an elected member of the Winnebago County Board, a resident of Oshkosh and a constituent of Senator Hopper's. I am here to speak in favor of Winnebago County's working families.

We have heard from Governor Walker, the majority of this committee and Senator Hopper that these radical changes and abuses to our hard working middle class employees are necessary because the state of Wisconsin is broke.

And because Wisconsin is broke, working families need to take pay cuts, benefit concessions and bear the local economic consequences these will entail.

We have also been told that because Wisconsin is broke, we need to cut Wisconsin's working poor off BadgerCare. This will result in the loss of healthcare for 1,000 Winnebago County residents alone.

We are told we need to do this because Gov Walker, the majority members of this committee and Sen Hopper say Wisconsin is broke.

However, even though Wisconsin is broke, Senator Hopper recently circulated a bill to eliminate the capital gains tax in Wisconsin. This will cost the state up to $250 million per year in lost revenue, more than the savings from gutting Wisconsin's working and working poor families.

Now, as a member of the Winnebago County Board and specifically the Human Services Board of Winnebago County, I know and have spoken to many of the working families affected by this bill. They are not making huge capital gains; they do not have large amounts to invest.

What this is is a shameful movement of funds from Wisconsin's working families to wealthier Wisconsin residents.

Senator Hopper, before his election paid personal state income taxes once in 10 years, and that was on a capital gain, the tax he proposes to eliminate.

So I would urge the Governor, this committee and Senator Hopper specifically not to take healthcare, benefits and rights from our hard working Wisconsin families; just so Senator Hopper and those who find other ways out of the Wisconsin tax system can continue to enjoy Wisconsin’s great government services without paying their fair share.

Governor Walker, Joint Finance and Senator Hopper: Throw this bill away and start over with a bill that is truly fair to all of Wisconsin's working families.

Thank you.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Welcome to the website and blog of District 17 Winnebago County Board Supervisor Jef Hall.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Winnebago County Personal Function Review & 71 Things

For anyone interested in what your county government does for you, I published the Winnebago County Personal Function Review documents on my County County Board Website:

Also, I put together a smaller overview of 71 Things Your County Does (why 71? I wanted to keep it to 4 pages). I did not include some obvious ones, such as roads.

If you want a larger read, the full 23 page program overview is here.