Parents Urge Lawmakers Not To Increase Medicaid Costs For Children With Disabilities

Sep 15, 2016

State lawmakers are hearing from the families of children with disabilities.  Families are worried some lawmakers want to cut the rates paid to therapists and now that service may be lost.

Boerne grandmother Bonnie Franzen says it’s expensive to care for children like her grandson who was diagnosed with cytomegalovirus at birth.  

“They’ll have hearing loss or total deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, organ issues, you name it, it affects them," Franzen explains.

Franzen says Nicholas has numerous therapy sessions each week including therapy for his behavioral needs.  She says Medicaid pays for those sessions which would cost her family over a $100,000 a year if they had to pick up the tab.

Under a 2015 legislative directive the Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission was asked to cut its overall Medicaid budget.  One of the things they’ve proposed is decreasing the amount of money special needs therapists receive through Medicaid reimbursement. 

Dennis Borel is with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities.  He says the cuts would cause at least 7,500 therapists in Texas to lose their jobs and that ultimately would result in 60,000 children losing access to medical care.

Parents of disabled children storm the state capitol
Credit Ryan Poppe

“Therapies to these children at the early stage of life pay off in more success in school, more success in the workforce, in education and in the community and being taxpayers," Borel says.

Flower Mound Republican Jane Nelson heads the Senate’s Finance Committee. She’s urging the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to proceed with caution when deciding which programs should be cut.

"I’ve urged the commission to proceed in a manner that doesn’t disrupt services and insures that we maintain access to care statewide, that is the most important thing," Nelson says.

Nelson reminded the head of the state’s Health and Human Services Commission that Medicaid requires Texas to provide access to care for disabled patients. 

The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the state’s Health and Human Services agency from moving forward with cuts most likely until the legislature reconvenes in January.