Proposed Medicaid cuts could limit Ark. children's therapy

Proposal could limit therapy children receive

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Proposed Medicaid cuts could cut back speech, physical, and occupational therapy for children, cutting the amount covered in half.

Right now, children can get up to 180 minutes of therapy per week through Medicaid.  Now, the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services is proposing a rule that would limit the amount to 90 minutes per week unless it's determined you need more.

Parents like Lainey Morrow, whose daughter has Down Syndrome, are worried their children won't get the therapy they need.

“She’s basically non-verbal which means she can’t tell us when she’s sick, she can’t tell us what hurts," said Morrow.  “As hard as we work we can't provide it, it just costs so much money."

Morrow has joined other parents on a Facebook page she created to discuss their concerns. 

DDS Director Melissa Stone explained the proposal wouldn't take away from those children who need the full 180 minutes per discipline. If needed, they'd be able to get an extension of benefits

“It’s not barring more services; its simply putting some measures in place so the right children are getting the right amount of therapy and those who don't need that level of therapy are not receiving it," said Stone.

The biggest concern parents and therapists seem to have is even if they request the maximum amount of therapy time, they don't know how long it will take to get approved.

“How long would it take to request that extra time? How long would it take for someone to review that?,” questioned Morrow.

Stone said they're working with therapists on an authorization process that wouldn't hinder those in need.

“We understand early intervention is crucial to children so we don't want to interrupt any service. We want them to get their therapy just when they need it," said Stone.

A public hearing on the proposal is being held Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at the Central Library on Rock Street. Public comments lasts until October 14.

There is also a petition on concerning the issue.


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