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New Texas Medicaid Cuts Could Cost Children Their Therapy

Published On July 15, 2016 | July/August 2016

Lawmakers plans to cut payments to therapy providers puts Any Baby Can’s mission at risk

Texas lawmakers are proposing a $350 million Medicaid rate cut, set to take effect on July 15, which will severely affect Any Baby Can’s ability to serve children in the Austin area with a developmental delay or disability through the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program.

By John Branham

Imagine learning that your child has a developmental delay, disability, or another special healthcare need that required him or her to see a physical, occupational, or speech therapist. And while these therapies may be costly, without them, your child’s condition will almost certainly worsen. Now imagine learning that Texas lawmakers are proposing legislation that would limit your access to the help your child needs. That is exactly what children and families right here in the Austin area are facing.

Texas lawmakers are proposing a $350 million Medicaid rate cut, set to take effect on July 15, which will severely affect Any Baby Can’s ability to serve children in the Austin area with a developmental delay or disability through the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission plans to cut payments to speech, physical, and occupational therapy providers on July 15, targeting providers who see children covered by Medicaid, the federal and state insurer for the poor and disabled.

“We know that through various therapies applied during the first three years of life, we can really make great advances in helping that child overcome some of those challenges,” said Andy Miller, president and CEO of Any Baby Can.

Any Baby Can, one of the proud to providers of ECI in Austin, helps parents learn strategies for helping their children, ensuring that the benefits of services extend well beyond individual therapy visits, and ultimately reducing the need for more costly services as the child ages. But the proposed cuts to Medicaid would jeopardize the organization’s ability to serve families.

“It’s really disappointing that the state is pulling back on that because the families’ needs aren’t going to go away,” said Miller

Children enrolled in ECI often receive specialized care, such as speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy to help them face their challenges and thrive. Any Baby Can’s ECI program is already dealing with previously enacted cuts, and these additional cuts to Medicaid pediatric therapy rates will place additional strain on the program and families, and could threaten many providers’ ability to keep their doors open.

The nonprofit serves about 500 children per year in their ECI program, but there are more families who need the support. Any Baby Can already uses about $200,000 from charitable donations to make the program sustainable, and with these cuts, Miller said it puts the whole program in question.

“It’s disappointing to see such short sightedness in terms of cutting necessary programs during the first three years of life when we know they can be so impactful,” said Miller.

Those interested in learning more about how the Medicaid rate cuts will affect children in Central Texas and how they can help may contact Eric Scott at Any Baby Can at Eric.Scott@anybabycan.org.

* At the time of print, Texas lawmakers planned to begin the $350 million Medicaid rate cut on July 15, 2016.

For more information visit, www.anybabycan.org

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