Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Texas Supreme Court Blocks Medicaid Therapy Cuts

By Marissa Evans, CQ Roll Call

July 11, 2016 -- The Texas Supreme Court delayed a 26 percent provider payment drop for Medicaid therapy services, a win for advocates and families who say the cuts would devastate access to care for children and adults with special needs.

On Friday, the state Supreme Court ordered the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, or HHSC, to temporarily hold off on slated July 15 payment cuts for Medicaid therapy services. Under Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and people with disabilities, children and adults can receive physical, speech, and occupational therapies.

Bryan Black, chief press officer for HHSC, said in an emailed statement that the agency is working with the Texas attorney general to discuss the next steps. With the temporary injunction in place, the Lone Star State's Supreme Court will consider the appeals court ruling from April and make a final decision. In addition, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also could reject the state's Medicaid cuts.

"Based on the Texas Supreme Court's order, the Health and Human Services Commission is halting implementation of the revised therapy rates scheduled to go into effect July 15," Black said.

The Texas legislature voted in 2015 to force HHSC to find $150 million in state savings for the therapy services between fiscal year 2016 and 2017. Legislators pointed HHSC officials to potential savings through provider rate decreases and other policy fixes. But advocates and lawmakers have been scrambling for months, asking the agency to delay the cuts until more information was available about how many beneficiaries would lose coverage.

Anne Dunkelberg, associate director for the Texas-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, said in an interview that the decision gives lawmakers a second chance. She said that because many Texas Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns about the looming cuts, the legislature may be inclined to give HHSC more time and flexibility to research potential impacts on patients.

Legislators "rushed into this one and were way too prescriptive and did not give them flexibility," Dunkelberg said.

But some community organizations are already abandoning programs such as the Early Childhood Intervention program, which serves 50,000 Texas children who receive therapy services. Stephanie Rubin, CEO of Texans Care for Children, said in an email that three organizations have already left the program "because of past state budget cuts and the anticipated Medicaid rate cut."

Still, Rubin said the court's action was welcome.

"It was great news for kids with autism, speech delays, Down syndrome, and other disabilities and delays," Rubin said. "It was also great news for our schools, since children who get effective interventions by age three are more likely to succeed in school and less likely to need expensive special education services."

Publication Details