Medicaid cuts could affect Texas children

Two weeks from Tuesday, massive cuts to therapy for kids are set to go into effect in Texas.

Now, some lawmakers are urging the governor to press the pause button.

Therapy providers estimate 12,000 disabled children in North Texas and 60,000 children across the state would lose access to therapy under the budget that passed, and they say that could cost the state more in the long run.

Two-year-old Kyler's therapist says Kyler is an example of what therapy can do for a child.

Kyler was born six weeks early. The baby of a drug addict, he went through withdrawal and could not even swallow without choking.

He also has trouble hearing certain sounds, which makes it hard for him to say some words.

That's where speech language pathologist Megan Ramos comes in.

“He doesn't have much vocabulary because he was so delayed in speaking,” said Ramos. “He's not meeting those milestones, but I see him doing it very soon."

Ramos is worried about what will happen to kids like Kyler if the state goes through with its massive cuts to Medicaid therapy services.

When you include the federal match that will be lost, the total cut is $350 million.

The state made the cuts based on a study that found Texas was paying twice as much for services as other states.

However, therapy advocates say the study was deeply flawed and compared apples to oranges.

The cuts were made without a public hearing, so most people only learned of them after the budget was already passed.

Texas Sen. Royce West, along with 27 other state lawmakers, wrote a letter to the governor urging him to hold off on the cuts until the impact can be fully examined.

“I understand that we want to be efficient,” said West. “I'm on the budget committee. I understand efficiencies…but what I don't want to do is decide to save $50 million and we kick kids out of the programs they need to be in."

If the governor does not stop the cuts before Sept. 1, it will take two years before the cuts could be reversed, and for many of the children needing therapy, experts say that could be too late.

FOX 4 has worked for days now to get an interview with Sen. Jane Nelson, chair of the committee that made the cuts.

She is traveling and was not available to talk with FOX 4 on the phone.

She sent a statement citing the study's rates findings and she says she will monitor the implementation to ensure disabled children get the care they need.