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House OKs Reversing Cuts to Disabled Children’s Therapy Services

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
08/15/17  10:52 AM PST
Cuts to Disabled

House OKs Reversing Cuts to Disabled Children’s Therapy Services by Kirby Wilson and Shannon Najmabadi for The Texas Tribune

The Texas House gave tentative approval Thursday to a measure that would partially reverse a controversial cut to disabled children’s therapy services that was ordered by the 2015 Legislature.

House Bill 25, authored by state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, passed unanimously, 138-0. Once it receives final approval, it will head across the hall to the Senate. (Update, Aug. 4: The House on Friday morning voted 141-0 to give the bill final approval. An amendment proposed by Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, that would have funded the measure with money from the Rainy Day Fund instead of the Disaster Relief Fund, failed. HB 25 now goes to the Senate.)

“By restoring the [Medicaid reimbursement] rates today, we’re doing the right thing for Texas children while remaining fiscally conservative,” Davis said.

Despite the strong approval from the House, significant hurdles remain for the measure. Among others, the issue of funding for therapy services for disabled children was not explicitly included among the 20 issues on Gov. Greg Abbott’s official agenda for the special session. Several lawmakers including state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, have urged Abbott to add the issue to the session’s agenda.

In a message posted to Twitter on Thursday, House Speaker Joe Straus said, “Today we showed that further restoring children’s therapy services should be part of what we accomplish this special session.”

The cut reduced the rate at which speech, physical and occupational therapists are reimbursed by Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled, when they treat children with disabilities. It was approved by the 2015 Legislature after a study found Texas’ Medicaid program pays therapists more generously than programs in other states. The study’s findings were refuted by lawmakers Thursday.

Read the Full Article at The Texas Tribune.

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