Overview of Assisted Living in Wisconsin
Wisconsin residents are a hearty people, first hunting prehistoric ice animals in the southern part of the state as early as 10,000 BCE and now tending to America’s Dairyland. More than five million people currently call The Badger State home.
Bordered by Lake Superior to the North, Lake Michigan to the West and the Mississippi River to the East, Wisconsin is known for its scenic landscape. Whether fishing on a river or visiting the state fair, one thing is clear: those who chose assisted living in Wisconsin are sure to enjoy a breath of fresh air in the great Midwestern outdoors.
Cost of Wisconsin Assisted Living
The average cost of assisted living in Wisconsin is $3,980 per month. This is higher than the national average which is $2,877 per month.
Assisted Living in Wisconsin Defined
Assisted living in Wisconsin is divided into two different types. Traditional assisted living facilities are referred to as “Residential Care Apartment Complexes (RCAC).” RCACs are independent apartment units that house five or more adult residents, and provide up to 28 hours per week of daily assistance or nursing care.
The other type of assisted living home in Wisconsin is called a “Community Based Residential Facility” (CBRF). CBRFs are similar to RCACs in that they house five or more adults and offer daily assistance and nursing care. However, compared with RCACs, the main focus of Community Based Residential Facilities is not nursing care. CBRFs typically offer only up to three hours per week of nursing assistance.
While both types of assisted living communities offer nursing care, neither facility is a legally defined nursing home. Both RCACs and CBRFs aim to grant residents a maximum level of independence, and as such, the amount of nursing care offered is limited.
Regulation of Wisconsin Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living in Wisconsin is regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Bureau of Assisted Living. The Bureau of Assisted Living is a subdivision of the Department’s Division of Quality Assurance, and its sole responsibility is to monitor assisted living communities, including RCACs and CBRFs.
All assisted living homes must apply for a license, and in doing so, conduct criminal background checks for all caregivers employed at the facility. Buildings must be inspected to ensure facilities conform to fire safety laws before receiving a license. In addition, assisted living communities have to submit a report every two years, and the department is required to investigate complaints or allegations of abuse from residents.
It is important to note the difference between “Certified RCACs” and “Registered RCACs.” Certified RCACs are inspected every two years, and accept Medicaid in addition to private payments. Registered RCACs are not inspected by the department (unless a complaint is filed) and do not accept Medicaid.
Legislation of Wisconsin Assisted Living Facilities
In an effort to reduce budget costs, the Wisconsin Act 32 passed in in 2011 capped the enrollment of individuals with disabilities and elderly residents into community-based, long-term care programs at the number of individuals already enrolled through June 2013.
Less than a year later, the passage of Senate Bill 380 in 2012 removed the enrollment cap and allowed the Department of Health Services to expand these long-term care programs into new counties; previously not every county had these long-term care programs available for their residents. A fiscal analysis concluded the passage of this bill would have no state or local government fiscal effect.
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