About the Movement
During the 84th Texas Legislative Session, there was a bill passed to cut $350 million from therapy services given through the Texas Medicaid program which serves medically fragile children with disabilities (Rider 5o in Article II, H.B. 1 (84R). However, the effect that such drastic cuts (28% rate reduction for many services) would have on therapy clinics and home health providers was not studied prior to passing the cuts.
In anticipation of the cuts, therapy clinics across the state have closed. Program contracts for the Early Childhood Intervention program were terminated due to no longer being able to sustain programs at the new low rates. Now that the cuts have officially been enacted (December 15th, 2016), it is a waiting game to see how many clinics and home health programs survive the next year.
THE REAL VICTIMS OF THE CUTS: The biggest population affected by these changes are children with disabilities. Children with disabilities depend on the Medicaid program to receive medically necessary therapy services. Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapists treat children with disabilities by providing:
- Life-saving breathing intervention. Children with disabilities often have problems with rib cage flexibility, respiratory muscle weakness, difficulty clearing fluids out of throat and lungs.
- Feeding and swallowing treatment for children with difficulty chewing and swallowing food, coordinating swallow without choking, and have difficulty eating certain types of foods needed for nutritional support.
- Treatment of tight and weak muscles which cause pain, difficulty moving, and can deform bones resulting in painful orthopedic surgeries.
- Assessment and recommendation as well as training for specialized equipment used to help children move, stand, walk, and participate in school activities.
- Skills training for Activities of Daily Living that increase a child’s independence and lead to decrease reliance on their parents and teachers. These skills eventually help transition them to an adulthood where they can have a meaningful contribution to the community.
YOU CAN HELP:
The 85th Legislative session begins on January 10th, 2017. Our state representatives have the opportunity to pass legislation reversing these damaging cuts. It is very important that new legislation is acted upon at the beginning of the session – it will take months for new legislation to pass and the cuts to be reversed. We can only hope that the clinics and programs can survive the cuts for those few months until they can be reversed.
State House Speaker Joe Straus told the Texas Tribune that lawmakers will work to make sure the programs aren’t cut. He admitted “…maybe we made a mistake, but I don’t think it was ill-intentioned…” Straus also stated “It was not an initiative of the Texas house, and I think you’ll see us address it.”
These children need your support. Be their voice. Call your state representatives and tell them you support REVERSING the cuts to children’s therapy in the Medicaid program.
Governor Greg Abbott: (512) 463-5739.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick: (512) 463-0001.
There are numbers being thrown around trying to justify the cuts to services, however they are not based on any good data. This is a VERY good article describing the flawed study used to try to justify the Medicaid cuts to therapy and the reasons why further analysis should have been performed.
- East Texas Children Lose Therapy Services In Budget Cuts Fallout
- Texas moving forward with budget cuts for disabled kids’ therapy services
- Parents rebuke lawmakers for cutting Medicaid money for therapy
- Cuts in Texas Medicaid hurt rural kids with disabilities especially hard
- Cuts to Medicaid therapy have parents of children with special needs on edge