Family Care Audit Raises Concerns About Oversight
Inside the State Capitol in Madison. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON- The secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services pledged to increase oversight in the massive Family Care program after an audit released Wednesday showed its cost-effectiveness was difficult to measure.
Family Care is a long-term care program for low-income adults who have developmental or physical disabilities or are frail and elderly.
The program, which provides care designed to keep people at home, rather than nursing homes, served nearly 29,000 people in 53 counties as of June 2010 and has since expanded into four more counties.
The program is not available in Dane County or much of northeastern Wisconsin, but does operate in Milwaukee County and most of the rest of the state.
Family Care cost $936 million last year and Gov. Scott Walker's budget calls for spending $1.4 billion on it in each of the next two years.
The report by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau praised the program for improving access to long-term care, but said its cost effectiveness is difficult to assess because the type and quality of services offered may be luring some people to enroll in the program who otherwise wouldn't seek public assistance.
Walker proposes capping enrollment in the program at June 2011 levels and prohibiting DHS from further expanding it.
The audit raises issues about the financial stability of the program that will need to be addressed, said DHS Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades.
She said the program should be the last resort for people, not the first.
The Department of Health Services is responsible for oversight of the program, but services are delivered under the direction of nine nonprofit managed care organizations.
According to the audit, four administrators of those organizations earned more than $200,000 in 2010.
Three worked at Community Care Inc., and the fourth worked for Care Wisconsin First Inc.
Three other executives earned between $170,000 and $186,100.
The audit also found that administrative costs for managed care organizations more than tripled from $16 million in 2006 to $53 million in 2010.
Three of the nine managed care organizations are at risk of insolvency.
The Department of Health Services is working with the state Insurance commissioner to monitor those.
They are Care Wisconsin First, Community Health Partnership Inc. and NorthernBridges.
Click here for thefull audit report.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)