OpEd by Charlie Baum, TN State Representative of Murfreesboro
I don’t believe any child should be penalized for their family’s financial circumstances. That is why I’m proud to have been part of the fight to fund the Katie Beckett Waiver program in Tennessee General Assembly. This measure passed in 2019 and I’m extremely pleased to report this life-saving program is now officially up and running in our state.
If you know a child with a significant disability, you probably know how hard their family struggles to take care of them.
Tennessee’s Katie Beckett Program invests more than $27 million to provide lifesaving medical services through TennCare for Tennessee children with significant disabilities and the highest medical needs, regardless of their parental income levels. We know children experience a higher quality of life when they can receive care at home, and this program will help relieve the financial burden on our families who desperately need help caring for their children.
The Division of TennCare and the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) began taking applications in November. Participants in the program are expected to fall into two levels of service. The program will serve approximately 3,000 Tennessee children who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid. Of that, about 2,700 children with disabilities or complex medical needs will receive up to $10,000 per year in medical and home-care services. Approximately 300 children with significant needs will receive full TennCare coverage and up to $15,000 in services per year.
So far, approximately 950 families have expressed interest in applying for the program and nearly 500 have enrolled. Assisted families will be offered the flexibility to choose from an array of service options. Recipients will receive help with co-pays and insurance premiums and reimbursement for both traditional and non-traditional therapies.
I can tell you from my work on the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee that we intend to support efforts to fully fund the Katie Beckett program in our 2021-22 budget.
TennCare and DIDD are continuing to take applications for the program. Interested families should fill out a self-referral form which is only available electronically on the TennCare Connect website at www.tenncareconnect.tn.gov.
Representatives from DIDDs are available to assist those who do not have a computer or are have trouble applying online. For information, families should call 866-372-5709 in West Tennessee, 800-654-4839 in Middle Tennessee, or 888-531-9876 in East Tennessee.
One of my primary goals as state representative is to increase access to health care, lower costs, and improve quality. Tennessee’s Katie Beckett Program is one of many initiatives the Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Bill Lee have developed to increase access to health care for our citizens. I am grateful for the privilege to serve you in the House of Representatives, and I look forward to continuing our work together building stronger, healthier communities for the next generation.
Charlie Baum lives in Rutherford County and represents the 37th House District in the General Assembly. He serves as vice-chair of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. He is a member of Education Administration and Joint Pensions and Insurance committees. He is also a member of the Finance, Ways and Means and Higher Education subcommittees. He can be reached by calling 615-741-6849 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org