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As State Announces Medicaid Cuts, Access to Care is Already a Growing Problem

Author | Shield HealthCare
09/09/15  2:23 PM PST
Eligible for medicare medicaid

By Megan Flynn for the Houston Press

When the Texas Health and Human Services Commission released its modified Medicaid rate cuts on September 4, they had no effect on Advocate Pediatric Home Care.

By then, the home care agency had already laid off all 15 of its speech, occupational and physical therapists and discharged 120 of those pediatric patients. It started doing so in June, up through August. And, according to the agency’s administrator and director of nursing, Brittany Brazell, it was in order to save them.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to provide the service,” Brazell said. “What we figured would happen if we waited for the cuts to go through was that either therapists would go without work, or patients would go without care. There was no way to make it a smooth, easy transition for anybody.”

So before the storm came, Brazell tried to help all of her therapists find new jobs and help her patients find new care before the industry was flooded with patients on waiting lists, stuck in a scramble.

On Friday, the storm touched down: The state announced revisions to the cuts proposed last spring. HHSC still has to implement the Legislature’s order to cut $350 million from Medicaid funding over the next two years, they’ll just do so in a slightly different way then the agency had initially planned. Instead of cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates for physical and occupational therapists by, on average, 18 to 20 percent, it would cut them by roughly 10 to 13 percent—but as high as 25 percent in some cases. Speech therapists, instead of seeing rate cuts of roughly 30 percent, would see them fall roughly 16 to 18 percent—still, some could see Medicaid reimbursement cut by up to 27 percent.

Brazell said that, given the amount HHSC was told to cut, she anticipated no amount of modification could change her decision.

Read the Full Article on the Houston Press.

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