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Severely disabled kids labeled at risk as Texas enacts Medicaid cost-savings plan

February 13, 2017
in Kids

AUSTIN — Amy Pratt drove her severely disabled son, Quinten, four-plus hours to Children’s Medical Center Dallas only to learn the insurance company that Texas hired to care for him had suddenly denied payment for an important procedure, one that could potentially save the 9-year-old's life. In El Paso, 11-year-old Rudy Smith lost most of the therapy services that helped him cope with cerebral palsy and a severe form of epilepsy, which plagues him with 50 to 100 seizures a day. His mother says she’s having trouble getting prescriptions filled, and the insurance company keeps sending her incorrect or faulty medical supplies. Arlington resident Blakley Hernandez is considering moving to another state because her son, Reid, a 3-year-old with a form of dwarfism, can no longer see specialists who were planning surgeries to fix his legs, which are bowing outward. These children are among 6,000 of Texas’ most vulnerable patients whose lives may have been put at risk by the state’s effort to cut Medicaid costs, their parents say. Lawmakers handed off their children’s care to private companies and nonprofit hospitals in November. Recent changes to the Medically Dependent Children Program — which provides aid for children whose maladies are so extreme that they require round the clock “nursing facility level care” — have caused alarming and widespread problems, a Dallas Morning News investigation found. The problems go far beyond agonizing red tape and hours of haggling with doctors and insurers over the phone. Parents say that life-or-death prescriptions aren’t being filled in a safe time frame and that children are losing access to specialists and nurses who are trained to treat rare and...

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