September 29, 2015

Child portraitAs we explained on a previous post, the fight against deep Medicaid budget cuts proposed by Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) continues, as it could potentially limit access to care to thousands of children with special needs. The state argues that Medicaid pays therapists much more than programs in other states. However, several Texas home health agencies have asserted that lawmakers are comparing apples to oranges when referring to Medicaid programs across the nation, making the state’s argument unsustainable.

The proposal of these budget cuts has created turmoil among therapists and families of special needs children that use their Medicaid benefits to obtain speech, occupational, and physical therapy treatments for their children. These cuts, which will consequently generate salary reductions for therapists, will force health professionals to drop out of the Medicaid program, leaving more than 60,000 children with disabilities and fragile health conditions without access to medical care.

What’s new?

When the HHSC proposed these budget cuts to Medicaid, it testified under oath that they did the necessary research to prove that children’s access to care would remain untouched and no patient would be negatively impacted by this decision. However, as it turns out, no research was ever done.

Last week, after much criticism, the HHSC admitted that it had not studied or considered how these budget cuts would affect children’s access to medical care, and it placed the blame on a Texas A&M University study, arguing that the commission had paid researchers at the university to do an access to care analysis, which they failed to deliver. Texas A&M University, however, denied such claims and it argued that the contract between the health commission and the public university shows that the researchers only agreed to “examine the authorization process, rate structure, and utilization patterns of pediatric acute care therapy,” and an analysis of access to care was never included.

HHSC’s position continues to be destroyed and discredited by lies and misrepresentations of the facts. It’s time they realize this approach is not viable, and it affects people for whom Medicaid coverage is no longer an option, but a necessity.

Judge Temporarily Halts Cuts to Children’s Therapy

Most recently, we are excited to announce that State District Judge Tim Sulak granted a temporary injunction to prevent the state from slashing payments to therapists. He believes that the proposed cuts could jeopardize the health of children receiving the therapy services.

Call to action!

Did you know that by August 20th half a dozen Republicans had sent letters of concern to HHSC Commissioner Chris Traylor? That’s right. And all of them were asking him not to approve these proposed changes to the federal budget until it was determined whether or not these budget cuts would affect access to care of current beneficiaries. On a similar note, the Speaker of the House, Joe Strauss, send a similar message on a Facebook post a few weeks ago: “I expect the Commission to keep us in compliance with federal law as it works through a new proposal. I also believe it is the agency’s responsibility to inform the Legislature if the proposed reductions would harm access to care and network adequacy.”

Also, Dallas Morning News’ reporter Robert Garrett noted in an article published in early September that Rep. John Otto and Sen. Jane Nelson have expressed concerns about the Medicaid cuts and whether these would limit children’s access to therapy services. They have all insisted that these changes to the federal budget should be implemented only if access to care remains unchanged.

This is a situation that affects many of us, whether directly or indirectly, and it is our job to defend the right of all children with medically fragile conditions to receive the therapy treatments they need to enjoy a better quality of life.

Please continue to show your support for this very important cause. You can visit this website to learn how to email your legislator and ask him or her to take action on these therapy cuts. The temporary injunction by Judge Sulak marked the first decision in a series of many legal challenges filed by providers and families who believe this to be important.

Your input matters!

Stay involved in this fight. Our special needs warriors need our support!