Family Care rate cuts have clients, families up in armsWisconsin’s system for reimbursing costs associated with the residential care of people with disabilities is being scrutinized, due to a class action lawsuit.
By: Jeff Holmquist , Pierce County Herald
Wisconsin’s system for reimbursing costs associated with the residential care of people with disabilities is being scrutinized, due to a class action lawsuit.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S District Court Western District of Wisconsin, some clients with developmental disabilities are being unfairly singled out for rate cuts. The suit was brought on behalf of 17 individuals with disabilities whose care is being jeopardized due to the state’s declining rate structure.
The lawsuit claims the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has been slashing the Family Care program budget the past couple years and clients are being caught in the crosshairs.
The DHS contracts with regional Managed Care Organizations to provide residential care for people with disabilities. Those MCOs then determine the level of payment each client receives for their care. Over the past few years, those rates can vary widely, putting a client’s current care situation at risk.
A number of Family Care clients, and their families or guardians, from St. Croix and Pierce counties are among those involved in the lawsuit.
Michael Amundson, who lives in an Aurora Residential Alternatives home in Hudson, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that has been hit the hardest by cuts.
According to the lawsuit, Amundson’s daily rate dropped from $177.51 in 2008 to just $56.66 in June of this year. As a result, the group home he’s been living in for nine years will no longer be able to afford providing 24-hour care and supervision for the 44-year-old man.
Amundson’s mother, Ella Amundson of Port Wing, said the family hasn’t received any explanation about why her son’s rates have dropped so much. The level of care he requires daily hasn’t changed, she claimed, yet the rates aren’t being maintained.
“It’s very frustrating,” she said in a phone interview. “My son has settled into a situation where he’s comfortable and he has friends. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
For more please read the Sept. 5 print version of the Herald.