Families fear cuts to medicaid waiver program

By Denise Jackson

May 30, 2012 Updated May 30, 2012 at 6:45 PM CDT

MARQUETTE HEIGHTS, Ill. -- Some local families say even though state legislators approved a cigarette tax hike it does little to the state's plans to eliminate a medicaid waiver program.

Right now under the Medically Fragile and Technology Dependent Waiver program parents are not required to pay for nursing hours but under changes they would have to meet certain income levels.

Bill and Holly Thompson of Marquette Heights say they would still qualify for the waiver. The state program helps with nursing care for their son Alex that costs more than $170,000 a year. Under changes they could be required to make a $400 monthly co-payment.

"That's a car payment, that's half of a house payment that's helping my daughter for college, saving for her car and we already have a lot of expenditures, his medical equipment does not get paid by medicaid," said Bill Thompson.

Michele McCullough of Roanoke has two adopted children, J.T. and Shonna, who require constant care due to a variety of health issues. Unlike the Thompsons, McCullough and her husband have a higher annual income and would not meet the state's income limit. Without the waiver program McCullough says she would have to pay up to $400,000 a year for the service.

"It's gonna cost a lot of parents to either have to sell their homes, go into poverty to get back on the program or to put their children in care cause a lot of these families have other children," she said.

Among the changes being recommended is that families give up 25 percent of their nursing care hours in exchange for hiring homemakers at a much cheaper cost. The parents say eliminating the waiver program would cause setbacks in the progress children like Alex and others are making.

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