JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas Medicaid is cutting back on the amount of therapy sessions that insurance will cover each year.
The Division of Developmental Disabilities Services has proposed that therapy sessions be capped at 90 minutes per week rather than the 300 minutes that were allowed in the past.
The Miracle Kids Success Academy in Jonesboro is worried that this could lead to other cuts and said it could be detrimental to the children they serve.
"You really need to catch a child early on because that is when their brain is developing fast," said Shelly Keller, a speech language pathologist.
The academy averages 120 minutes of therapy per week for each child that qualifies.
Capping therapy time to only 90 minutes could be avoided if a family goes through prior authorization by the state.
This could affect children depending on how severe their delays are, how diligent providers are in requesting prior authorizations, and how fast the state responds to those requests.
"There will still be less services," Keller said. "However, I do think that parents still need to know what is going on in the state."
Rennell Woods is a local father whose son Kobe receives 120 minutes of occupational, physical, and speech therapy each week.
Kobe had 70% brain damage at 5 months old, but Woods said the time his son, who is now 3 years old, has spent in therapy is a clear example of how every minute counts.
"One minute, two minutes, you never know, just that actual touch and that care could spark that interest and that inspiration in a child that they need to develop into the person God created them to be," Woods said.
Keller said her main concern is the possibility of other cost cuts, such as third-party assessments. That means that children may not be assessed by their own therapist but one across the state.
Keller said since there is a shortage of therapists in Arkansas, some children might have to wait several months before testing and then even longer to be referred to a therapist that can treat them.
"Children with special needs really need services and I think for every dollar we put into children with special needs now we save $10 dollars in the future," Keller said.
The proposal to cut costs could go into effect next year.
Keller said she highly encourages all parents with concerns about these cuts to call their legislators.
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