Family advocates in Wisconsin spent months appealing to the state to continue to ensure choice and the availability of a full array of options for non-residential settings, including sheltered workshops. After the CMS issued its clarification of the new HCBS Rule on the subject, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services wrote a letter to the CMS with its decision to continue to assure a full array of available non-residential settings and choice.
The letter stated that,
"Sheltered workshops have provided services and resources to individuals and families for years. They provide assistance in developing work skills that help people move into employment across the state. We believe that sheltered workshops provide services that are vital to the individuals and families who depend on them and should remain part of Wisconsin’s robust efforts to help people with intellectual disabilities gain employment. We understand that it is an allowable choice for people to receive employment services in a sheltered workshop setting under Wisconsin’s approved waivers.
"We have now reviewed the home and community-based non-residential settings guidance that CMS issued on December 15, 2014. Based on this new guidance, which continues to emphasize individual rights and choices, Wisconsin will continue to offer our most vulnerable residents a choice of settings for employment (both competitive and non-competitive) and day services. As CMS has indicated, the setting chosen by the person may depend on whether he/she requires services that are highly clinical or medical in nature or he/she has competitive employment goals."
This shows what is possible under the new rule and that it does not necessarily portend the closing of all congregate (group) settings, as many advocacy organizations pushing for closure would have us believe.