Fewer People To Go Into Nursing Homes

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Department of Health and Family Services Secretary Kevin R. Hayden announces that the Joint Committee on Finance has approved the Department's request to increase nursing home diversion placements from 150 to 300 placements. Secretary Hayden and Governor Doyle thanked Senator Judy Robson for all of her hard work on this issue, as well as Senator Carol Roessler and the members of the Finance Committee.

"Many older adults and people with disabilities overwhelmingly prefer to get care in their home or community," said Secretary Hayden. "We are committed to providing people a choice about where they live, while making sure they get the care they need. The nursing home diversion program has been highly successful and counties are able to serve more people who were on their waiting list to receive community care."

Nursing home diversion placements allow the counties to find community care for elderly individuals or people with physical disabilities who are at imminent risk of entering a nursing home. On March 1, 2007, Secretary Hayden made a request to increase the number of available nursing home diversion slots under the Community Integration Program II from 150 to 300.

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"All across this state, I've met people who don't need to be in nursing homes, and can live in their own community with just a little help," Governor Doyle said. "This is one more step towards helping seniors and people with disabilities live more dignified lives in their homes and communities while still getting the care they need."

Results from the initial 150 diversion slots indicate the success of the program. The first 150 slots were made available in April 2006 and were all taken within eight weeks. The Department continually receives requests from the elderly and people with disabilities, their families and county workers about the availability of additional diversion spots.

Governor Doyle has set a goal to reduce the use of nursing homes by 25% during the next five years. The state has launched a comprehensive effort to achieve this ambitious goal, including the nursing home diversion program and expanding Family Care statewide.

Family Care is a successful pilot program in Fond du Lac, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Portage, Racine and Richland counties. It allows seniors and people with disabilities the choice to receive long-term care services in their own homes and communities. Family Care provides an entitlement to long-term care, using Medicaid dollars flexibly and not just earmarking dollars for nursing home care.

Governor Doyle's plan to expand the Family Care program statewide will eliminate waiting lists for community-based long term care programs during the next five years. While Wisconsin is a national leader in offering community-based alternatives to nursing home care, about 11,500 people are on waitlists for community care statewide.

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