WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - A program is expanding while another is being discontinued at North Texas Rehab Center in Wichita Falls.
"Well, it hurts. It's sad. A few folks won't have positions here," Rehab Center President and CEO, Mike Castles said.
The center announced this week that due to continued decreases in reimbursement, including the recent cuts to Texas Medicaid effective July 15, the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program contract would not be renewed.
"It's become unsustainable, especially with the Medicaid cuts over the last year and the ones that go into effect in July," Castles said.
The ECI program serves 50,000 children, from birth to age three, in Texas each year. It has its own stream of federal and state funding, but nonprofit providers, like North Texas Rehab Center, have to bill Medicaid to pay for a majority of the program's services.
"It's very disappointing for everybody throughout the state and we know that Medicaid is affecting every area of health care," Castles said.
To try and curve the impact, Castles said the Child Achievement Program (CAP) will expand to include children from birth to age three. However, some of the nearly 500 families the ECI program serves within a year, do not travel to Wichita Falls for their services. Beginning November 1 they will have to.
"They have to come to us rather than us go to them. That's the downside," Castle said.
The program serves families in Archer, Baylor, Clay, Foard, Hardeman, Jack, Montague, Wichita, Wilbarger and Young counties.
"Our focus is on how we can transition them to whatever is available. We're going to help every way that we can," Castles said.
Cuts in funding to pediatric therapy can affect more than NTRC.
"When they cut any of those outside resources that we use, it affects us tremendously," Program Education Disability Manager for Early Head Start, Ana Blanchard said.
Out of the 104 children they serve, eight were recommended for the ECI program and five were accepted.
"With budget cuts, it could be anywhere from two to three getting in, rather than the five," she said.
At Early Head Start 10% of their students need to be children with developmental delays or disabilities.
"When we can't get our 10% enrollment we're asking for waivers and trying to determine the necessary steps that we have to take as an organization to help these children who would normally qualify for those programs," Blanchard said.
These budgets cuts are going to make things difficult all around.
"We are committed to accommodating and treating this population," Castles said.
When asked if he knew how many employees this was going to affect, Castles said they were still working on that. He did say the ECI program employs around 20 people.
Texas Representative James Frank released a statement to Newschannel 6 about the issue at hand. It read:
"Cost containment is a necessity for the state in its Medicaid program. That is why the Legislature passed a budget which contained certain rate cuts. However, after passage of the bill, an enormous amount of information and public testimony emerged questioning the methodology of the research presented to lawmakers and the long-term impact on access to care. I had hoped that implementation of the cuts could be delayed until the Legislature could meet to consider this new information in 2017 and joined many of my colleagues working toward that end. I know North Texas Rehab has done and will continue to do their very best to ensure some level of service to those affected, but this is obviously a challenge for our area. We'll continue to work with them and other providers to come up with a good solution in the next session."