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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Medicaid Cuts in Texas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss health care issues and state Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Ashley Lopez reports at KUT-FM:
In a matter of weeks, the U.S. Senate could be voting on a Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, 25 health care advocacy groups in Texas sent a letter to Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz raising concerns about the plan.

The groups worry Medicaid per capita caps could be carried over from the House bill, known as the American Health Care Act. For simplicity’s sake, this means spending per person in the Texas Medicaid program could be capped according to how much the state spent in 2016.

Anne Dunkelberg, an associate director with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said using 2016 Medicare spending as a starting point for what states get could create a lot of problems.
For example, she said, "in 2016 we had axed those [pediatric] rate cuts, and we had many children with developmental delays and disabilities not able to access the services they need.”
In addition, Texas hadn’t effectively made lifesaving hepatitis C treatments available last year in the Medicaid program. Behavioral therapies, which are often used by children with autism, also weren’t rolled into the program by 2016.
Kate Kasper writes at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 602,000 children in Missouri get their health care through Medicaid. This means that two out of five kids in our state are able to see a doctor when they are sick, get vaccinations and important screenings they need to stay healthy. The AHCA’s Medicaid provisions would make it especially hard for children with special health care needs, including those with disabilities, to get the care they need to stay healthy, remain in their communities, and succeed in life. Medicaid is a lifeline for children with disabilities and their families, serving 40 percent of all children in America with special health care needs such as autism.
Alecia Deal, a community health worker in St. Louis and mother of three, relies on this lifeline for her 14-year-old autistic son. Without Medicaid, her son would not be able to receive therapy of any kind, psychiatric treatment or medications. In fact, he would be unable to attend his school for children with special needs because Medicaid pays for that as well.
Steve Tawa reports at KYW-AM:
Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey says the bill could trigger major cuts to Medicaid. The School District of Philadelphia, for example, could lose more than $11 million, and all told, Casey says Medicaid funding for the Commonwealth could be cut $135 million.
“None of those dollars should ever be at risk because a group of extreme ideologues in Washington think they have a better way to do this,” said Casey
He waved a letter he received from Pamela Simpson of Coatesville, whose 5-year-old son, Rowan, is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and ADHT. She shared her family’s story, with Rowan in tow.

“We measure success with tiny things that most parents take for granted,” said Simpson. “Will my child be able to use the bathroom by himself? Will be he able to tell us what he did at school today? Will he be able to use a spoon? Those therapies are crucial to help us answer questions like this, with the answer, yes!”

Simpson points out without Medicaid benefits, occupational, physical, and speech therapy, and medication would be inaccessible for her young son.

In Casey’s words, this is “about our basic values, and we’re better than that.”