Texas Speaker backtracks on cutting therapy funds

El Paso News

A year after Texas lawmakers ordered to cut funds that pay for special needs kids’ therapy, House Speaker Joe Straus told the Texas Tribune the cuts were “well intentioned” but that “maybe they were a mistake.”

On Monday, state officials said they’d begin implementing the $350 million worth of cuts on December 15.

A day later, Speaker Straus vowed to reverse the decision made at the end of last year’s legislature.

The millions of dollars of Medicaid reimbursements the state intended to cut pay for services such as speech, physical and occupational therapy for kids who are disabled.

“It’s incredibly refreshing to see the speaker of the house stand up and say you know what? We’re going to reverse that. We were wrong, and to me that’s the honorable thing to do,” said Dennis Borel, Executive Director of the Coalition of Texas with Disabilities.

Borel says the speaker’s decision is a result of parents who fought this past year for the funds to be brought back.

“Rather than being passive recipients of what their government told them they were doing, they said ‘No. We object to that. What you did was wrong and we think you need to reverse it.’ So, this is a triumph for advocacy from the community and I hope they take that lesson to heart because there will be other actions that need this kind of response,” said Borel.

Straus said he plans to restore the cuts in a supplemental budget.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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