Possible Elimination Of Program For Elderly, People With Disabilities Raises Concerns For Some

IRIS Program Would Possibly Be Discontinued Under Budget


The possible elimination of a long-term care program in Wisconsin that helps 11,000 older adults and people with disabilities have raised concerns among the program’s beneficiaries and others.

Jason Endres of Eau Claire is in a wheelchair and has used IRIS since 2009. The state program pays family members to care for him.

“Because I feel more comfortable with them. In other programs such as Family Care, a lot of times those are agencies that have anyone come in your home and you don’t really have any say over it,” said Endres.

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However, under the budget proposed by Gov. Scott Walker earlier this month, IRIS could be eliminated.

On Tuesday, the state’s Health Secretary Kitty Rhoades told lawmakers during a budget hearing that the intent of IRIS — self-directed care — would continue, even if the program ends.

“It is important that we end the erroneous rumor that IRIS is going away,” she said.

Rhoades say people now using IRIS could get self-directed care under a related program called Family Care. It would be run by for-profit insurance companies.

Endres and others worry they won’t get the care they want from whom they choose.