Parents plead with state to restore Medicaid benefits for disabled children

Posted at 3:31 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 17:31:05-04

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    Lincoln, NE (KETV) — Dozens of Nebraska families pleaded for help from the state at a special meeting Wednesday night.

They said changes made to Medicaid funding will put their children at risk. It’s an issue KETV Newswatch 7 started investigating weeks ago.

The state hired private consultants after an outcry from hundreds of Nebraska parents.

“If I lose the Medicaid, I don’t have $20,000 to come up with my deductible at the beginning of the year to give my boys the medicine, they will die,” Angie Hertezl said.

Hertezl is one of about 50 families who packed a room at a Lincoln public library to share their stories with the consultants.

They described how losing the benefits will impact the special care needed for their children.

“If you had to pick two of the worst evils, where you could not walk the rest of your life or not talk the rest of your life, that is what the state is doing,” Peggy Stone said.

Stone shared her story with KETV Newswatch 7 previously. Her son, Paul, 7, has autism and intellectual disabilities. He is one of an estimated 174 Nebraska children who no longer qualify for the Medicaid waiver under rules and regulations the Department of Health and Human Services put in place in December.

DHHS hired the private consultants to try to find a solution. Parents believe the state doesn’t understand their daily struggles and the difficult decisions they have to make.

“My options are to give my kids to the state and let them take care of them and they will not know how to take care of them, but at least they will have Medicaid or divorce my husband and move into an apartment,” Hertezl said.

“I literally had to choose. Does she get her meds or her food? How do the people making these decisions sleep at night?” one parent asked.

The consultants will continue to gather information and give a proposal to DHHS to consider by the fall.

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