Wisconsin is one of nine states spending more than half their Medicaid funds to keep older adults and people with disabilities out of nursing homes. According to a recent national report by AARP, other states are making slower progress on caring for people in the community.
Wisconsin has always been a leader on issues related to aging, said Helen Marks Dicks, state issues advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin.
"Right now, covering people in nursing homes is mandatory, but the states have the option whether to do home- and community-based services, and (Wisconsin) has always taken that option," Dicks said.
In 2014, Minnesota spent the greatest percentage of Medicaid dollars on community-based services for older adults and adults with disabilities: 69 percent. Wisconsin spent 53 percent, according to the AARP report.
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The report also looked at state support for family caregivers, Wisconsin ranked 13th in that regard. Last month the state Legislature's Joint Finance Committee approved $25 million in state funding for direct care workers in the Family Care program.
"The governor made a slight adjustment in his budget proposal but it doesn’t go far enough, and of course there are the 578,000 unpaid family and friend caregivers throughout the state who aren’t compensated at all and are actually spending money out of their pocket," Dicks said.
Gov. Scott Walker's budget also would increase reimbursement rates for nursing homes and personal care workers by 2 percent a year.