Parents of severely disabled children fight for legislature to approve Katie Beckett bill

Tennessee News

A fight over funding medical treatment for disabled kids looms for Tennessee lawmakers.  The House wants to do it one way, the Senate another. 

At several points of the legislative session, lawmakers have heard emotional appeals from parents of disabled kids. 

Tori Goddard is the mother of a disabled child, and she says, “What you guys are giving us back is for us to have a future and for me to support her and that means a lot.”

Goddard was with her daughter Zoey on Wednesday. They and other families with disabled kids applauded action by the Tennessee House on what’s known as the Katie Beckett waiver.  It would allow children with severe disabilities to receive at-home care and be eligible from the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare.

An estimated 3600 Tennessee kids would be helped. 

Carol Westlake with the Tennessee Disabilities Coalition says, “The House nearly unanimously passed a budget that has money to provide a Katie Beckett program. It will make a huge difference.”

The Senate is a different story for funding the Katie Beckett measure, which requires a waiver from the federal Medicaid program. 

The Senate, for now, has committed just over half of the $27million approved by the House. 

“I quit my job so she could have services,” said Tori Goddard.

Along with less proposed funding for these families with disabled kids, the Senate has been criticized for finding money to cut taxes on professional groups such as doctors and lawyers. 

Senate leaders of the Republican supermajority counter their Katie Beckett funding helps the most seriously disabled kids while being cautious about how much the new Medicaid program will actually cost. 

If Tennessee approves the Katie Beckett bill it would be the last state in the country to do so. 

The Katie Beckett waiver is named after an Iowa woman who spent her childhood living in a hospital. 

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