2017-19 Biennial State Budget is Officially Signed into Law

A little after noon on Thursday, September 21, Governor Scott Walker signed the 2017-19 biennial budget bill into law.

The bill includes a 2% increase in each year of the biennium for SNF Medicaid reimbursement and a $60 million (all funds) increase for Family Care over the biennium.

Governor Walker also vetoed a budget provision which would have transferred 18 nursing home beds to a medical provider without any transactional costs. WHCA/WiCAL worked with member facilities to request the governor veto the provision, as it circumvented the current legal process for bed transfer to benefit one organization.

“The bill signed today by Governor Walker is the result of nearly two years of advocacy from long-term care providers across the state,” said John Vander Meer, Executive Director of WHCA/WiCAL. “As we consider this budget bill’s benefits for long-term care, we must also recognize the tireless efforts of WHCA/WiCAL members and staff, who played an integral role in realizing this legislative success. As we turn to future budget cycles, we can use this budget’s focused outreach efforts as a road map.”

Vander Meer also thanked members involved in budget outreach throughout the last two years:

“Thank you to all WHCA/WiCAL members and business partners who called, wrote, or emailed their legislators; provided tours to legislators; participated in Legislative Day; participated in a local JFC listening session or legislative town hall; had staff fill out Workforce Crisis Postcards; contributed to the WHCA/WiCAL PAC, or reached out to their legislators in other ways!”

See WHCA/WiCAL’s official statement here.


Below is a timeline of nearly two years of budget advocacy which helped lead to the budget bill being signed into law with increased funding for SNF Medicaid and Family Care.

As you review the last two years of outreach, remember that long-term care providers must remain vigilant in future budget cycles to continue to realize positive changes and to push for systemic payment reform:

February 2016: WHCA/WiCAL, along with other state provider associations, commission a study which resulted in The Long-Term Care Workforce Crisis: A 2016 Report. The report has proven an invaluable advocacy tool as we demonstrated to legislators the dire need to address the workforce crisis through state funding.

May 2016: WHCA/WiCAL sends member facilities and legislators copies of the Workforce Report; issues joint press release with long-term care provider associations to announce the report; members encouraged to contact their legislators to raise awareness of the LTC workforce crisis.

May 2016: Ahead of summer recess, WHCA/WiCAL begins campaign to invite legislators to tour local long-term care facilities. Dozens of legislators take tours, in which administrators provided another copy of the Workforce Report and discussed workforce challenges.

September 2016:  WHCA/WiCAL and other provider associations release joint budget request, including increases for SNF Medicaid reimbursement and Family Care funding.

October 2016: WHCA/WiCAL hosts Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair John Nygren and JFC member Gordon Hintz to discuss long-term care and the budget at WHCA/WiCAL’s 65th Annual Fall Convention.

October 2016: WHCA/WiCAL begins Workforce Crisis postcard campaign at Fall Convention, distributing more than one thousand postcards for attendees to take back to their facilities and have staff fill out.

November 2016: WHCA/WiCAL broadens Workforce Crisis postcard campaign by sending postcards to member facilities throughout the state.

November 2016: WHCA/WiCAL PAC has a successful campaign season, as every candidate which received donations from the PAC won re-election to the state legislature.

January-February 2016: WHCA/WiCAL Government Affairs team meets with new legislators and sets up pre-session meetings with many influential legislators to discuss budget priorities.

February 2017: Governor Walker unveils his version of the budget, which includes a 2% increase in SNF Medicaid funding. WHCA/WiCAL announces its support for that provision and continues to push for the legislature to add funding for Family Care.

March 2017: WHCA/WiCAL hosts is biannual Legislative Day, Caregiver Day at the Capitol. Legislative Day attendance was the largest in years. Attendees received a legislative briefing from WHCA/WiCAL staff and saw presentations by DHS Secretary Linda SeemeyerAssembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Attendees then visited with more than 50 legislative offices regarding our budget priorities. The night before Legislative Day included a PAC appreciation reception which included several legislators.

April 2017: JFC holds budget hearings across the state; WHCA/WiCAL members attend hearings and voice their support for increases for SNF Medicaid reimbursement and Family Care funding.

April – May 2017:  WHCA/WiCAL’s Government Affairs team meets with legislators who serve on the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee and their staff to discuss budget priorities.

May 2017: JFC votes on DHS budget, which includes 2% SNF Medicaid reimbursement increase and $60 million (all funds) increase for Family Care. WHCA/WiCAL announces its support of the JFC budget plan.

May 2017: WHCA/WiCAL Executive Director sends letters to the editor to local newspapers of JFC members to thank committee members for standing up for long-term care providers.

May – August 2017: On behalf of the WHCA/WiCAL PAC, WHCA/WiCAL’s Government Affairs teams attend numerous fundraisers for Governor Walker, legislative leaders, and JFC members.

June 2017: WHCA/WiCAL PAC nearly meets its yearly goal prior to the mid-year reporting period. The PAC raises $17,000 toward its $20,000 goal with 6 months left in the fundraising period.

June 30, 2017: Budget deadline passes without a budget in place.

July – September 2017: As budget negotiations continue, WHCA/WiCAL’s Government Affairs team continues to meet with JFC members regarding long-term care providers’ budget priorities.

August – September 2017: WHCA/WiCAL and member facilities submit veto request letters to Gov. Walker urging him to veto a provision which would have transferred 18 nursing home beds to a medical provider without any transactional costs. WHCA/WiCAL worked with member facilities to request the governor veto the provision, as it circumvented the current legal process for bed transfer to benefit one organization.

September 13, 2017: Assembly passes the budget, which includes a 2% increase for SNF Medicaid reimbursement and a $60 million (all funds) increase for Family Care.

September 15, 2017: Senate passes budget.

September 21, 2017: Governor Walker signs budget into law, with final version including a 2% increase for SNF Medicaid reimbursement and a $60 million (all funds) increase for Family Care.


THANK YOU for your continued commitment to the long-term care provider community!