Northwestern Wisconsin long-term care program to get new managerFamily Care in Douglas and 10 other counties in Northwestern Wisconsin will get new management at the start of the New Year.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Family Care in Douglas and 10 other counties in Northwestern Wisconsin will get new management at the start of the New Year.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced this week that Community Care of Central Wisconsin will take over management of the state’s Family Care program for people with long-term care needs in Northwestern Wisconsin.
“The state’s contracts go out routinely for bid every five years,” said Kitty Rhoades, secretary of the Department of Health Services, which oversees the Family Care program statewide. “This is that routine procurement process.”
The department writes up the requirements for proposals, but the determination to award the contract is made by the Procurement Division, which looks at the financial and technical aspects of the proposals, Rhoades said.
NorthernBridges, which manages the Family Care program for 11 northwestern counties now, has been subject of meetings among the state department officials and program members, care providers and guardians in an effort to resolve disputes recently. Rhoades said, however, that those controversies played no role in the decision to change program management.
The department is “firewalled” from the procurement process, she said.
“They’re scored and ranked independently,” based on things like their financial portrait, communication with members and guardians, and customer satisfaction, Rhoades said. “It’s really broad-based because we’re trying to keep the focus on … individual care and the focus is on members.”
Community Care of Central Wisconsin scored the highest.
“It’s a very clean, objective process,” Rhoades said.
Community Care of Central Wisconsin manages long-term care services for about 3,400 members in Marathon, Portage, Wood, Lincoln and Langlade counties in central Wisconsin. In January, the organization will also serve members in Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn counties.
“There’s a couple of reasons we looked at expansion,” said Mark Hilliker, chief operating officer of Community Care. “It is part of our strategic direction as an organization … there’s an increasing amount of competition in the state. As we looked at the future, we looked at getting a bit bigger in order to survive.
“The second thing is we really think the way we deliver managed care is the way people want it delivered,” he said.
Hilliker said CCCW’s model focuses on the person and centers on the community. He said they focus on community connections, providing care, letting members live self-determined lives, living in the community, employment and mobility support.
Douglas County Supervisor Pat Ryan, a long-time advocate for the members served by NorthernBridges, said Community Care was one of two organizations in the state she was hoping would take over managed care in the area.
Ryan and County Board Supervisor Mary Lou Bergman have facilitated numerous meetings among Wisconsin health services officials, providers, members and guardians in an effort to resolve issues with the way NorthernBridges delivered care.
“I am happy,” Ryan said. She said she talked to Jim Canales, director of Community Care, and she was impressed with the way the organization delivers manage care.
“They are a very successful and compassionate organization,” Rhoades said of Community Care. “This is the goal.”
Rhoades said she expects a seamless transition of care when Community Care takes over the Family Care program in January.
“Members should not even be aware of the change,” Rhoades said. “It will be a smooth transition of services. There will be no interruption of services … We’ve done it before and we just keep our focus on the people who are enrolled in the program.”
For more information about Community Care, go to www.community