Several Show Up To DHS Therapy Changes Proposal Public Meeting

Local News
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – They’re some of the most vulnerable Arkansans, and the way their therapy is funded and regulated may be changing soon.

DHS has proposed a threshold cap on Medicaid-funded therapies for special needs kids and young adults.

What’s being proposed is that Medicaid would pay for kids to have up to 90 minutes of physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy a week. There would be a way to get more time, but families would have to go through a different process to get it approved.

Parents say the way the program works now is helpful for the children, but DHS says the proposal will help keep Medicaid around for years to come.

Jennifer Marks’ 21-month old daughter is named Journee, and her name tells her story.

She was a micro preemie, born at 24 weeks at 1 lb and 3 oz.

Marks says she gets 2 hours a week of both occupational and speech therapy and two and a half hours a week of physical therapy. She just started walking three months ago.

“Without those services and without the max amount she can get, she would not have been doing as well as she is. We’re very thankful for those services,” said Marks.

Marks and her husband also own a therapy center. She says if DHS approves the new proposed rule they could be impacted on both ends.

“For services to become restricted, it will very well hit us personally, as well as professionally,” said Marks.

More than a hundred people brought similar concerns to a public comment meeting Wednesday. Many who benefit from the program.

“We understand that this is a very crucial program, and we know early intervention is important,” said DHS director of communications Amy Webb.

DHS says there is a way to get more therapy than the 90-minute threshold proposed. Families would have to go through a prior authorization process.

“We’re still developing that process. We’ve pulled in a group of clinicians, and these are clinicians that already work with children that need these services,” said Webb.

DHS says it will now take the input and go back to the drawing board to decide how to properly move forward.

You can also leave a public comment online until October 15th. You can email Dawn.Stehle@dhs.arkansas.gov.

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