Tuesday, July 7, 2009

No Title

I highly recommend that you avert the eyes from this post. I have been sporting a bad attitude that has lightened the rose-colored tint to my glasses. And now all I see are the stark contrast between what (I think) things should be and what is reality.

Ok, so you are still reading. You'd better grab a handful of happy pills because right now, all I have it bleak ranting about how life is just plain unfair.

Let me start out by just saying that I work as an SLP with my local early intervention agency... and last fall, I went to a meeting where we were told that my state was implementing a new and innovative, top-of-the-line, best practices method for intervention. Enter "The Coaching Model". Last December, the first pilot program ran for the new Coaching Model and it has now been implemented. Let me just briefly digress and explain WHY this is not a good thing.
Imagine all of your therapists that your child works with. If your experience is like mine, you have your physical therapist, your beloved occupational therapist, and if you're fortunate, you cherish your speech therapist (I LOVED mine!). Then add to the mix your developmental therapist... and don't forget your service coordinator. Ok, so you have this team of therapists who help your child to reach developmental milestones. Now. The coaching model has a team of all the professionals... but instead of having 3, 4, or even 5 therapy appointments per week, one with each therapist, the coaching model involves just one (1) primary coach who has contact with the family. Your primary coach now provides ALL the therapies... so, if your Coach is an SLP, and your kiddo needs some OT or PT, then SLP will be doing therapy activities.

Now,this might be a good model for kids who are typically developing, but just have slight delays here and there. But as parent of a child with a known syndrome and multiple needs, I really feel like my child will benefit from highly trained professionals. I would not like to have my SLP do PT, or my PT doing feeding therapy. It would have been a disaster for my child... now back to my original train of thought.
At the begining of the year, my governor announced state cutbacks of approximately 6-9 percent of all budgets across the board. As a result, kids in my state who were originally receiving multiple therapies plus an additional 30 hours of developmental therapy (typical in Idaho) were reduced to a max weekly amount of 22 hours of therapy. So for many kids, their services were cut in half- after PT, OT, and SLP, there's only about 15 hours of developmental therapy time left. THis is a big deal.

Last month, the early intervention program announced that all families across the board, whether they carry insurance/medicaid or not, will have a copay. A stinking copay to cover services that our federal laws have mandated our children to receive if we so desire those services.

And this week, a letter was sent out to all families with kids with disabilties that Medicaid coverage is changing as well and families will now be paying a premium for those services as well.

In doing a little homework, I have found that many of our western states have moved in the same direction. And honestly, my head is feeling heavy and I feel emotionally drained at the notion of the winds of change that are about to befall us. As parents of children with special needs, I really feel like we are about to be dealt a hand of cards that are stacked against us in a very big way.

For me, my daughter does not currently receive SLP, OT, or PT. She is eligible for services (won't go into why she's not gettin anything right now). She is getting IBI therapy over the summer for 20 hours a week...

We haven't found out what our premium is for her Katie Beckett coverage, so this could be a big deal for us. This is her only coverage right now, since Blue Cross private insurance (where I purchase the policy) will not insure her.

So my question to you is, have you heard any changes in your area and how is it impacting you?


hayngrl101 said...

I just wanted to add that from my view, having services cut from 5 appts to 1 per week... then reducing the amount of hours of therapy per week... then adding a copay for early intervention... AND THEN adding a premium for medical coverage... this all looks like its financially driven by our government, to reduce spending on special education services. Do you have a different point of view?

tiptoe mama said...

That Sucks!!! My daughter isn't in early intervention anymore, but her preschool at the deaf school is being cut to half days next year because of budget cuts. Of course the letter the school sent home says it's because studies have proven that half days are more effective in that age group than full days. I'm curious to see how it will all work out, but so far, I think it will be an okay thing, as full days really wore her out.....I still feel sick about the way a lot of things in the world are going though. You're not alone.

Melissa said...

wow... I am floored. I really hope here in Utah things don't change. My son currently does have PT, OT and SLP..... so to have just one of those doing all three would be a disaster too. As for making you pay a copay.... I swear it's like they don't even think about how much special needs children cost.... not even counting therapy. I will be watching here in Utah really close since we still have one more year of EI to go.

Lori said...

what you just described is the exact system in GA. I just met with our new caseworker today and she walked me through it. it is quite disheartening coming from a different model and realizing my child's needs may not be entirely met. she told me I could seek "supplemental therapy" if we felt she needed it but that would (of course) not be covered by the state... huh.

hayngrl101 said...

Our great state of Idaho... they are not exactly being forthcoming with all of the options available to parents. My daughter is almost 8, so she is not receiving EI services anymore, but even when she was eligible, I still opted to take her to see therapists in a hospital clinic and had them bill her KB Medicaid/Medicare whatever you call it. I think it was the best decision we made for her early on...