AUSTIN, Texas – With two weeks to go before state health officials
plan to drastically cut funding for a program that pays for in-home
therapy for kids with disabilities, groups suing the state are getting
some bipartisan support.
On Thursday, more Texas lawmakers called on the state to postpone
It comes as the parents and therapy providers behind the lawsuit are
asking the Texas Supreme Court to step in while the appeals process
plays out. Chuck McDonald spoke on behalf of therapy providers and the
families suing the Health and Human Services Commission.
“We call it injunction, but for these children, the people we
represent in this lawsuit, it’s life or death,” said McDonald.
It stems from millions of dollars in cuts to reimbursement rates,
paid to in-home therapy providers. Most of whom, provide those
services to thousands of children with disabilities. He said the
emergency motion filed with the Texas Supreme Court, Tuesday could
stop those cuts from taking effect while the appeals process continues.
“There’s no reason to rush into this, and that’s what’s really
disappointing about HHSC and the State’s insistence that by golly we
just have to do this,” said McDonald.
In Texas and Washington D.C., Republicans and Democrats wrote
letters to the heads of both HHSC and the Center for Medicare and
Medicaid services calling on them to reconsider.
“I really hope that HHSC takes into account all of the feedback
that they have received, they have the option to do something
different,” said Rachel Hammond, Executive Director for the Texas
Association of Hospice and Homecare.
She said lawmakers are finally recognizing how harmful those cuts
will be in the long run.
“The rate cuts are really so severe, that they make it
impossible for many agencies to provide the services that they provide
now,” said Hammond.
She hopes those lawmaker letters will resonate with both the court
and the agency. We reached out to HHSC for comment. A spokesman told
Time Warner Cable News the agency doesn’t comment on pending
litigation. However, he did issue this statement:
“In May, the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals rejected the effort to halt
reforms to Medicaid reimbursements outlined in the general
appropriations act. With the claims against the State dismissed, the
Health and Human Services Commission resumed the process to change
Medicaid therapy rates. Last month, HHSC provided public notice in
the Texas Register of intent to amend the Medicaid state plan. The
public notice identified the anticipated dollar impact of the
changes, intended to ensure the state is not overpaying for therapy
rates. The proposal is subject to approval by the federal Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Legislature provided a
thoughtful approach to achieve appropriate rates while also
maintaining access to care. HHSC will closely monitor the ability of
clients to receive medically necessary services as the reimbursement
rates are adjusted.”