The Long Term Care Redesign project was launched in November of 1995. Activity over the next year and a half included:
- Three Steering Committees with broad representation to provide advice to the Department:
- Steering Committee on Aging and Chronic Conditions
- Steering Committee on Developmental Disabilities
- Steering Committee on Physical Disabilities
- At the same time, a major effort was begun with the goal of redesigning the state’s mental health system. The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Health included Department staff and other individuals who were involved in LTC Redesign. In effect, this Commission served as a fourth steering committee to advise on both efforts.
- A series of focus groups with elderly and disabled LTC consumers; these were held in a variety of settings and geographic locations.
- A LTC Redesign Team, composed of middle and upper level managers within the Department, which met at least weekly for over a year.
- A number of work groups composed of Department staff who gathered and analyzed information, prepared issue papers, and made recommendations to the Redesign Team.
- A LTC Redesign Executive Committee, composed of senior DHS managers, who made final decisions about the shape of the Department’s proposal.
In May 1997, the Department released its preliminary proposal for LTC Redesign and scheduled a series of public hearings. Response to the proposal was mixed. Although many expressed agreement with much of the proposal, there was considerable concern about several issues. In response to these concerns, the Department announced that it would reconsider these issues and rework the proposal.
From July to January, top Department staff met with a variety of groups with an interest in long term care to discuss their specific concerns. In October, Secretary Leean announced that the Department had modified its position on several issues that had been the focus of concern. He also announced the creation of the LTC Redesign Consolidated Steering Committee to assist in resolving remaining areas of disagreement among major stakeholders.
The Consolidated Steering Committee held its first meeting on October 24, 1997. Members expressed a strong desire to work together to resolve remaining differences. They agreed to the creation of smaller work groups to work on specific issue areas. These work groups met between December 1997 and March 1998, developing consensus around a number of issues.
In his January 1998 State of the State address, Governor Thompson proposed the creation of "Family Care," to reform Wisconsin's LTC system and directed the Department to develop legislative language for inclusion in its biennial budget request.
The Department developed a revised proposal, based on the recommendations of the work groups and the Steering Committee; on issues where consensus had not been reached, the Department made proposals that reflected the input received. The LTC Redesign Consolidated Steering Committee discussed this revised draft proposal at its meeting on April 17, 1998. In May, the Department published a further refined draft that incorporated many suggestions from the Steering Committee.
As directed by the Governor and the Legislature, the Department submitted drafting instructions to the Legislative Reference Bureau and issued a further refined proposal for Family Care on July 31, 1998. Governor Thompson included the Family Care proposal in his 1999-2001 biennial budget request, Assembly Bill 133, which was passed by both Houses of the Legislature in early October, 1999. The Family Care legislation was included in the final version of the bill.