Texas health officials have filed a motion in the state appeals court to request that the state override a ruling by District Judge Tim Sulak who, this past September, stopped health officials from cutting payments to a pediatric therapy program.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is hoping to have Sulak’s decision overturned and it’s arguing that Sulak “overstepped his bounds,” says the Texas Tribune.
GOP Senate leaders have been trying to reduce Medicaid spending in Texas; earlier this year, they ordered the state’s health commission to reduce state funding by $100 million. According to Chron.com, the proposed cuts could result in the loss of $200 million of federal funds as well, since the federal government matches state contributions.
The majority of funding cuts would be aimed at programs financed through Medicaid that pay for physical, and occupational, and speech therapy professionals to treat disabled children living in low-income homes.
Therapy providers were shocked by the proposed cuts and argued in court that many disabled children would not be able to receive the treatment they need. Sulak agreed, and he shut down the proposal this past September. He stated that there was evidence that the cuts could drive therapy providers out of business, thereby failing to provide access to necessary health care.
The state’s health commission has not given up just yet. According to a 28-page motion, it has turned to the Third Court of Appeals and has stated that Sulak’s ruling “usurps a power expressly reserved to the executive branch of the federal government.”
The Dallas Morning News reported that Republican leaders Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson explained the initial decision to cut funding by looking solely at numbers.
“There has been a dramatic increase in the cost and utilization of acute care therapy services in the Texas Medicaid program,” said Patrick and Nelson. “Costs have increased from roughly $436 million a year to an estimated $722 million from 2009 to 2014.”
Patrick stated that the $100 million wasn’t set in stone, but rather that it was a “flexibility to strive for.” He also noted that the state could consider making cuts in other areas of Medicaid’s program in order to preserve access to therapy programs.