Sunday, April 5, 2015

Erpenbach: ADRCs Deserve Legislative Support

Senator Jon Erpenbach has written an op-ed piece about the importance of the Aging/Disability Resource Centers and the long term programs that serve our disabled and elderly citizens:
In the mid-1990s Wisconsin made the decision to create Aging and Disability Resource Centers. These centers have spread throughout Wisconsin and have been used as a model for many other states for best practice in local long-term care support. ADRCs help the elderly and disabled and their families by providing counsel regarding options for in-home services and care that help people stay in their own home and out of nursing homes and institutions.

This model of a "local one stop shop” for the elderly and disabled, managed on a nonprofit basis in local communities, is truly a success story for Wisconsin. ADRCs are charged with helping individuals use their own financial, family and community resources efficiently and effectively. ADRCs are available for all residents to use, regardless of income or personal resources, and have a mission to empower people to make informed choices.

Unfortunately, Gov. Walker has proposed that ADRCs 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. Local ADRC governing boards, which include elderly and disabled board members, would simply be eliminated.

ADRC boards are not alone; the successful self-directed IRIS program is also slated to be eliminated, and existing local management for Family Care is also set aside in favor of the statewide management program.

For the past 20 years I have volunteered delivering meals on wheels once or twice a month. Many clients are referred to the program by our local ADRC. The relationships I have built with participants have truly shown me that ADRCs are needed and necessary in our communities. You simply cannot substitute local knowledge and support.

Obviously, the first question we would like the governor to answer is why should we throw out programs like ADRCs, which work successfully locally with a core set of volunteers and not-for-profit experts in favor of a statewide program that will be run for profit? These choices make no sense for the people of Wisconsin and should be outright rejected by the Republican-controlled Legislature. I will do my part on the Joint Committee on Finance to repeal Walker’s proposed privatization of ADRCs, IRIS and regional management of Family Care. Elimination of local systems to create bigger private systems of care for individuals seems like a bad idea.
I agree completely with Erpenbach on all but one point. Walker's scheme does not seem like a bad idea - it is a bad idea!

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