Medicaid,Early childhood intervention,Texas,Disability,Therapy,Texas Legislature

Cuts In Texas Medicaid Hit Rural Kids With Disabilities Especially Hard

November 3, 2016
in Kids

Intensive home-visits by physical, occupational and speech therapists have been "a lifesaver," for little Haylee Crouse, her mom Amanda (left) told Shots. Haylee, who is now 2, developed seizures and physical and intellectual disabilities after contracting meningitis when she was 8 days old. Last year, the Texas legislature approved a $350 million cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates to early childhood intervention therapists and providers. The cuts, made to help balance a billion dollars in property tax relief, affect the most vulnerable Texas children — those born extremely prematurely or with Down syndrome or other genetic conditions that put them at risk for developmental delay. For months, providers of in-home physical, speech and occupational therapies have continued to serve children who have disabilities, despite mounting financial losses. Now some have had to shut their doors, curtail services or halt their home-visit programs, leaving many children without treatments their parents feel are crucial to the kids' well-being. That's what's happened to 2-year-old Haylee Crouse, who lives with her three brothers and sisters in the small town of Whitehouse, in East Texas. When she was just 8 days old, Haylee contracted newborn meningitis. It left her with some mental and physical deficits, and she started having periodic seizures. But at the age of 9 months, Haylee started getting home visits and treatments from physical, occupational and speech therapists, several days a week. The therapists worked for the non-profit Andrews Center, in Tyler, Texas. Amanda Crouse, Haylee's mother, said the therapists have made all the difference in the world for her baby girl. "They were a lifesaver to her and to our family," Crouse said. "They worked her hard. For example, she was not rolling over. They taught her how to roll over. They then taught her how to crawl, pull up on the couch and then, finally, she learned how to walk." Today, Haylee walks and laughs and is learning to talk. But all this progress is now at risk, her mother says. The state's cuts to its Texas Medicaid Acute Care Therapy...

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