Bill aims to help Tennessee families of kids with special needs

Local News

Families of children with special needs looked to Tennessee lawmakers for some help Tuesday. 

“They will actually have some assistance,” said a young mother named Katie Phillips who traveled from Knoxville Tuesday to meet with lawmakers. 

Where she went on Capitol Hill, so did her 5-year-old son Keagan, who has Prader-Willi Syndrome. 

Katie Phillips told the story of how families like hers do not qualify for the state’s Medicaid TennCare because they make too much money, but private insurance often does not cover the kind of needs that kids like Keagan have.  

Phillips said right now it begins with $2,000 dollars monthly for his care. 

“That’s like for his oxygen supplies at night, his medications and then later there are doctors, we see 12-14 doctors on a rotation,” said Parks about the needs of her son. 

While the Phillips family makes too much money to be on TennCare, lawmakers are looking for ways to help families like the Phillips with their out-of-pocket costs.  

Tennessee House democrats would argue expanding TennCare with available federal funds would be one answer, but the Republican sponsor is looking at more limited ways that may be available. 

Rep. Sam Whitson is crafting a bill he plans to sponsor that would allow the use of TennCare’s Medicaid funds to families like the Phillips.  

Materials provided by his office show that “all states except for Tennessee have opted to provide a Medicaid coverage pathway for at least some children with significant disabilities living at home without regard to parental income.”  

Rep. Whitson told News 2 “We are talking about children with severe institutional disabilities that actually qualify right now for that.” 

The bill sponsor says there are various ways the measure might be constructed, which include co-pays or other insurance to help the families’ kids with expensive special needs.  

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