Over the 25-year period between 2010 and 2035, Wisconsin’s younger (under 65) population is expected to grow by less than four percent while the 65+ population nearly doubles, increasing by 90 percent. In accordance with the Older Americans Act, the Wisconsin Aging Network prepared this plan to outline how the state will develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated system of services to serve older adults. However, Wisconsin faces two significant issues: stagnant funding and a new approach to long-term care being implemented statewide.
The Older Americans Act calls for mandatory funding for aging services; however, as is the case with many public programs, the economic recession and budget shortfalls in Wisconsin have severely limited the accessibility of funding. However, a new statewide initiative to address long-term care for older adults is now being implemented. The strategy is to create aging and disability resource centers (ADRCs), physical facilities and offices which provide a single entry point for information on aging and disability.
Other report highlights include:
- Wisconsin recognizes that the rural counties will experience the lion’s share of growth in the 65+ age segment. That means services for older adults will need to be designed and implemented across a wide and rural geographic swath.
- The state’s county-administered home and community-based Medicaid waiver programs are being reorganized into a network of managed care organizations (MCOs) offering “Family Care” for people age 18 and older with physical or developmental disabilities, and frail elders. The goal is to give people better choices about where they live and what kind of services and supports they get to meet their needs.
- A significant issue faces Wisconsin as it implements ADRCs as single-points of entry, which are effectively replacing Area Agencies on Aging with more resources and access to more services. That issue is funding. Many smaller rural counties simply do not have the financial resources to operate fully-functioning ADRCs.
The plan is not able to present any long-term solutions to these funding-related issues, but instead presents strategies and tactics, as required by the Older Americans Act, to demonstrate that they are meeting their obligations. Almost every action item the State Unit on Aging is undertaking includes the line “in cooperation with…” and lists a potential partner, including non-governmental organizations.
How to Use
Compared to most state plans, Wisconsin earns points for telling it like it is, and by recognizing the geographic differences in how the age wave will affect rural areas. Local planners will benefit from reviewing the long list of strategies and tactics proposed by Wisconsin, even if many are simply on-going requirements from the Older Americans Act, because Wisconsin’s State Unit on Aging has figured out how to partner with someone to get the job done.
View full report: Wisconsin State Plan for Aging – 2010-2012 (PDF – 19 KB)