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.