Increase access to Speech Therapy for kids with special needs in Texas!
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The State of Texas is forcing children and families with special needs to wait, and wait, and wait for speech therapy services! Waiting lists are 6 months or longer across the Houston area and lists are 36, 200, and even 400 clients long! And, these numbers are just for small businesses. The numbers for the larger hospital systems are considerably larger. Meanwhile, insurance carriers continue to deny therapists access to network enrollment citing "enough clinicians in the area." 6 month waiting lists and hundreds of waiting children are the statistical proof that the need is great. And, Texas Health and Human Resources Commission is about to make that wait and lists even longer. For the third time in less than a year, cuts are being proposed for speech therapy services. This time...an additional 30% reduction is being proposed for services provided by speech therapists assistants. To be clear, this in additieon to the cuts just made in December! 60% reimbursement reduction?! More than half of the salaries and reimbursements for speech therapy alone would be slashed 60%!
May we have 60% of your paycheck, health, and well-being Mr. or Ms. Health and Human Services Commission worker. Mr. Charles Smith, Executive Commissioner is your expertise worth 60% less than it was yesterday, and could we still get you to provide a service if this was the case?
What happens next?
1. Providers will close their doors due to the devaluing of the skilled therapy services by TexasHHSC resulting in an inability to sustain a business. This will cause continued decreases in the access to quality healthcare services.
2. Waiting lists will grow longer and children and adults with autism, alzheimers, parkinsons, swallowing disorders, developmental delays, hearing impairments, apraxia, brain injuries, cerebral palsy, and a host of other disabilities will continue to wait for the medically necessary services required. Some will not survive.
3. Insurers will have even fewer clinicians available to offer services to the already growing numbers of children and families needing help due to the increase in the numbers of children with autism and other communication disorders.
4. The cost for care will continue to rise!. As clients wait for medical services, the gap in their health continues to grow and widen exponentially with the passage of time without the necessary medical intervention provided by skilled speech therapists and other therapeutic professionals.
5. This affects the entire state of Texas; our local communities; the therapeutic professionals and the livelihood of their families. Many physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists will be left unemployed which creates another burden for families and the state.
Therapists change lives by ameliorating and correcting medical deficits in thousands of children and adults every single day of the week. The education and training acquired by this group is to be valued for what it is...life changing. There is no substitute for quality care and access for those in need. Continued cuts to reimbursement for these services is unwarranted and not supported by any objective measure. Those unaffected or without the need for these services today, might not "feel" the need. Live long enough, experience enough, and witness enough, and you, too will be enlightened. The future health and well being of an entire segment of the population depends on the actions of Texas Health and Human Services Commission and/or the inaction of the masses. The solution: no more cuts to therapy services in the great state of Texas.
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