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Tennessee Medicaid Program Covers More Kids

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Tennessee Medicaid Program Covers More Kids

Tennessee has been approved for a federal program to help families who have children with complex medical needs and disabilities.

The Katie Beckett Program will split costs between the federal and state government to provide therapy, equipment and nursing care for families that could not qualify for medicaid because of household income. State Senator Paul Bailey helped shape the legislation for Tennessee.

Bailey said before this program, he heard firsthand from families not being taken care of in a way Tennesseans deserved.

“To hear those heart wrenching stories about how the mom and dad had to separate, ultimately file for a divorce so that they could continue to receive benefits to take care of their child,” Bailey said. “Tennessee just didn’t need to be in that business, so we basically stepped up to the plate. It’s about a $25 million dollar cost to our state budget to help these children but it’s well worth every penny.”

Bailey said many of the families who will qualify for this program have children who require round the clock care. Part A of this program will provide Medicaid services to children with the most significant disabilities or complex needs. Part B is a Medicaid diversion program, meaning children will not be enrolled but will receive a capped support package of $10,000 annually.

“The Katie Beckett Program allows for assistance in the home to be able to continue proper care, providing physical and speech therapies,” Bailey said. “Occupational equipment and supplies to be able to assist these young adults in being able to live a productive life.”

Senator Bailey was a co-prime sponsor on this legislation asking for the Katie Beckett waiver. Bailey said unfortunately, there are children who were lost before this program could become a reality.

“In fact one of the children that came before us that was from Cookeville has since passed, before the Katie Beckett waiver was actually granted,” Bailey said. “They knew that we had applied for it with the federal government but that child has now passed.”

Families will be able to start applying on the TennCare Connect website on November 23.

Katie Beckett was a young girl born in 1978 who had been hospitalized since infancy. Her family petitioned Congress during the Reagan administration to ask Medicaid to cover medical services for children in the home, regardless of the parents’ income.


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