AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--State Representatives Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) and Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) along with pediatric and elderly patients, parents, patient advocates and members of therapy provider associations today gathered at the State Capitol to raise awareness of proposed budget cuts that would reduce Texas Medicaid expenditures on therapy services.
“We’re meeting with lawmakers and letting them know the cuts contained in the Senate budget will devastate therapy services for Texans who need them most,” said Angela Pena, a Registered Nurse and member of the Pediatric Committee of the Texas Association for Home Care & Hospice (TAHC&H). “We’re asking lawmakers not to balance the budget on the backs of children and elderly with medical needs. Therapy is a critical Medicaid service that needs to be protected.”
The therapy services facing cuts help children with birth defects, genetic disorders, physical or cognitive disabilities and those born prematurely to function in daily life. For adults, the therapy may help in recovery from a broken hip or with progressive diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. A doctor prescribes the therapy in response to a patient’s medical need.
“We’re urging budget leaders to consider the impact on these patients from losing these vital services,” said Rachel Hammon, Executive Director of TAHC&H. “Therapy saves the state money by helping kids early in life and helping the elderly at home thereby reducing the need to access care in more expensive settings such as a hospital now and in the future. Research has shown time and again that early intervention with therapy services saves money in the long run.”
The Texas Senate budget cuts are embedded in a cost containment rider that cuts $200 million from Texas Medicaid expenditures on therapy services, a 31% reduction to the benefit. According to Hammon, the idea for this drastic cut originated with a study conducted by Texas A&M and the extrapolation and misinterpretation of the study’s data by HHSC staff in their report to the legislature. This deeply flawed report cannot be legitimately used as the basis for deciding where appropriate cuts can be made without impacting access to care.
The House budget has taken a more thoughtful approach and ensured that if any reductions are made, they will happen with meaningful stakeholder input and consideration of access to care. This approach will ensure that cost savings do not come at the expense of medically necessary therapy.
These proposed cuts come on top of a series of cuts in the reimbursement rates paid to cover the costs of those providing therapy care to their patients: Since the 2010 fiscal year, providers of services have experienced reductions each legislative session and in some cases these cuts have exceeded a total of 10 percent.
“We are doing everything we can to raise awareness on the impact of these cuts and to work with budget writers to identify other ways to save without cutting out the heart of therapy services,” said Hammon. “We encourage lawmakers to support the House budget rider, remove the reference to the flawed report and work with all stakeholders to ensure therapy services are available to those in need for years to come.”
TAHC&H represents over 1300 companies that are committed to support the daily needs of those fellow Texans in their homes, where they belong.