Birth, Life and Death of a Bad Idea
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Care Association in early spring of 2015.
The frail elderly, disabled, and their families learned the governor sought to privatize the successful Family Care and IRIS programs, handing them over to a few large insurance companies.
The birth of this idea happened in secret.
The Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary – charged with shepherding the plan through the legislative process – acknowledged to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “she learned of the proposal only when the governor’s budget was released.” Evidently her staff also knew nothing of the plan.
“None of them knew anything about this,” said Barbara Beckert of Disability Rights Wisconsin. “They are in a state of shock.”
In December 2014, the governor’s office invited advocacy groups to a meeting to discuss what they would like to see happen with the programs. Jason Endres and his spouse Julie of Eau Claire attended that meeting.
“We were never listened to,” Jason said. “The governor did a complete 180 when the budget came out.”