Texas Medicaid Cuts Could Put Some Children at Risk

The state of Texas is set to cut funding for disability programs within Medicaid.

By Beth Cortez-NeavelAugust 6, 2015 11:19 am| ,

Four million-plus Texans rely on Medicaid – yet the state is set to cut the amount of money it pays to some of its programs. And because the whole idea behind Medicaid is to help people of low income, they’re the ones in the crosshairs. Providers of certain services are also being affected; some will be losing jobs.

Emily DePrang has reported on the issue for Quorum Report, a Texas politics and government newsletter. Speaking with the Standard, she clarifies just what the cuts will mean.

On what services the state will cut:

“It’s going to cut about $350 million from [the Acute Care Therapy Program] that provides speech, occupational and physical therapy to almost half a million Texans with severe disabilities. Most of those are kids.”

On the importance of these services:

“For example: Speech therapy. People think of it as being a lisp but often it’s teaching a premature baby how to swallow or how to latch onto a nipple. These are life-saving services. These are medically necessary, or else Medicaid wouldn’t be covering them at all.”

On why the programs were cut:

Lawmakers decided that the state was spending too much on Medicaid. They asked A&M to do a study of rates on what [Texas was] spending, compared to other states and to commercial insurance. They took that data and kind of went off on their own. They came up with a summary … often … referred to as a Texas A&M study finding that we were paying too much. Actually, Texas A&M is adamant that, “We didn’t write that study, that’s not our work.”

On the perceivable lack of public input:

“[Lawmakers] didn’t announce how they were going to … take it all out of this one program until … all opportunity for public comment on the budget went by. So there’s been no stakeholder input. The one time they had a hearing – they had seven hours – over 200 people came in and said, ‘Please don’t take my kid’s therapy away,’ or ‘My business will close.’ … It looks like they’re going to do it anyways.”