Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, June 1, 2017

Vander Meer on panel discussing state's aging population, long-term care

Vander Meer on panel discussing state's aging population, long-term care

John Vander Meer (MPA ’06) participated in a panel discussion about the implications of Wisconsin’s aging population and growing long-term care workforce crisis for state policy May 2 in Madison.

The Wisconsin Health News event also featured Lynn Breedlove of the Wisconsin Long Term Care Coalition, Curtis Cunningham of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and Tim Garrity of Community Link.

Vander Meer has served as executive director of the Wisconsin Health Care Association since January 2016. He previously was the association’s communications director for five years.

The four panelists discussed the challenges facing the state’s long-term care programs, including several included in Gov. Scott Walker’s 2017-19 budget proposal. A video of the panel discussion is posted on WisconsinEye.

“Wisconsin faces a crisis in the availability of long-term caregivers,” Vander Meer said. “What we need is a moonshot approach; part of that is funding, but part of that is based in based in regulatory reform and collaborative efforts.”

Vander Meer mentioned the Caregiver Career Program, which the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and other stakeholders are leading, as an important first step. Vander Meer is a member of the program’s steering committee.

“Caregivers in the market place can look to other jobs in big box retailers, convenience stores, and gas stations to have the opportunity to have more competitive wages (because) our reimbursement model is based on state and federal sources of funding,” he said.

Noting that the most difficult job in a nursing home is a certified nursing assistant, Vander Meer said: “To be resident-centered, there have to be the appropriate number of caregivers within a facility so that residents receive effective, quality care.”