Well providers, we survived Star Kids …even if 2017 wasn’t the year we were hoping it would be.. we survived. We all experienced some sort of upheaval during these past 12 months including the huge shifts in political climate, social unrest, the weather and more. Even in relatively calm times, the work of advocates is never a walk in the park. LALA HCS is grateful that we were able to survive and to deliver on a few measures.
In this difficult environment, LALA HCS and our partners managed to secure several significant wins, not the least of which is survival. We endured late payment, no payment, and recoupment of thousands of dollars and now decrease in service hours or discharging the clients from services. The true champions remain standing and remain in business. With so many uncertainties, we are still in limbo in many areas. We have learned that going forward we need to better understand the dynamics of the federal and state government.
State Health Policy Changes
Despite significant gains in some areas, decisions were made on the State level that destabilized fundamental community services and supports. We noted some disheartening trends of undercutting the State’s own budget, putting energy into politics over meaningful policy, and ignoring cost-effective community-based solutions for Texans with disabilities.
National Assault on Public Health
Many of our elected officials in Washington want to cut health care coverage for the disadvantaged, including people with disabilities. Their starting point, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would have thrown millions of Americans out of health coverage, caused almost 39,000 Texans to lose services under the Community First Choice Option, cut over 40,000 Texas health care jobs, and closed hospitals. If this wasn’t bad enough, Congress proposed to cut into traditional Medicaid as it existed before the ACA. Cost-effective community services would definitely have been on the chopping block.
STAR Kids is the most recent rollout of a much larger shift in the state’s handling of Medicaid, which is increasingly privatized and dependent on managed care organizations, the big networks to which the state pays a flat rate to handle thousands of patients and doctors.
It was projected to save the State hundreds of millions of dollars, and supporters argued that the MCO model would provide better services for patients. But documents show the State has known for years that its switch to the MCO model has been fraught with problems.
The state has also noted several failures and issues with MCOs, including some hired as part of STAR Kids.
Those problems include substandard care, high-needs patients losing access to health care, and health insurers cutting corners or inflating diagnoses to maximize profits.
On March 01, 2017 children with disabilities and special needs and their families, advocates, and concerned Texans converged on the state Capitol to challenge Texas to do better for our most vulnerable little citizens.
It’s time for all Texans to ACT. Nothing was done to change or improve Star Kids. The question that remains is WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO.
We salute our partners and other national disability organizations that led the charge against bill after bill that would have been disastrous for Americans with disabilities. We jumped in to these efforts, calling our friends to action, organizing and participating in rallies and town halls, and calling and visiting Texas congressmen and women.
Our collective movement to stop Medicaid cuts and ACA repeal has been successful so far. But Congress is still moving forward with its efforts to undermine access to healthcare and services for Americans with disabilities. Even now, they threaten kids of low income families by failing to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We’ll follow these efforts closely into 2018, and we’ll be counting on our partners to continue to advocate for our people and the children and families we serve by raising their voices! You can trust that LaLa HCS is committed to continue to serve those in need and we look forward to working in partnership with you in 2018.
Through this Blog, we’ll follow these efforts and more closely in 2018, and you can count on LALA HCS. We’ll be counting on our partners to continue raising their voices!