Final Budget Hearing Ends With Testimony On Long-Term Care

Walker Budget Ends Program That Allows People With Disabilities To Hire Family Members As Caretakers


The final public hearing on the state budget wrapped up in Reedsburg on Thursday much as the first one began, with home care workers, people with disabilities and their families testifying against changes to Wisconsin’s long term care programs.

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would end the IRIS, a program that lets disabled people hire caretakers, including family members. In its place, the state would contract with large insurance companies to manage long-term care.

Tracy Bergeon testified that when her mother, who has multiple sclerosis, was living at a nursing home, she was given months to live. Bergeon said IRIS let her take her mother home. More than three years later, she’s healthier and happier.

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“IRIS is what helped us save her life,” said Bergeon. “They offered us a chance to stay home and to take care of her.”

Republican Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair John Nygren said he’s not comfortable with the governor’s plan in its current form, but he said lawmakers owe it to themselves to study whether they could reduce long-term care costs in the future.