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Jaxon Huffman has a seizure disorder. Couldn't they just tell him to stop that?


The Texas legislature, always on the lookout for ways to save the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars and to crack down on lazy welfare cheats (and everyone receiving government assistance is a cheat, unless their last name is "Inc."), came up with a terrific idea: cut $150 million in Medicaid reimbursements for therapy provided to children and seniors, starting at the end of September. That'll encourage kids and olds to take some responsibility for themselves and go get a job, instead of being disabled. And as we all know, low healthcare funding never hurts anyone. That you've heard of, at least.

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Consider 4-year-old Jaxon Huffman, the little guy pictured up top. He has a seizure disorder that causes "up to 100 spasms and seizures, including several grand mal seizures, every day. His muscles stiffen, his head drops forward or backward." In what seems like deliberate stubbornness on his part, Jaxon's symptoms don't respond to standard epilepsy medications, either. The seizures can be triggered, says his mom, Jennifer, by being in large crowds, unfamiliar environments, or stressful settings. Which is why it really helps that speech, occupational, and physical therapists come to the family's home twice a week, so Jaxon doesn't have to go to an outpatient clinic where more seizures and spasms might be triggered. The in-home therapists have even helped Jaxon with therapies that allow him to swallow food more easily, which has kept him out of the hospital. And that's a nice change; last year, he was hospitalized four times after aspirating bits of food into his lungs, which became infected.

Yeah, you know where this success story is headed: The budget cuts are going to mean no more home visits, which will require families like Jaxon's to go to outpatient clinics, where he can have more seizures and may or may not be able to get the help that's kept him out of the hospital. On the upside, if he gets sick enough, he may need a feeding tube and a full-time nurse, or perhaps one of his parents will have to quit a job to take care of him. But the state will have saved some money on home therapy, so please ignore any increased costs resulting from sicker kids who end up getting hospitalized more often. Now the legislature can point to the cuts and crow about all the money they saved the taxpayers.

Last week, it briefly looked like the state Health and Human Services Commission would back off the cuts in response to a lawsuit filed by several home health agencies, but then it turned around said it was only delaying them by a month so it could try to cut the funding, but maybe redirect a few dollars here and there to settle the suit. That didn't work, so the cuts will be implemented on Oct. 1 instead of the original target date of Sept. 1; the lawsuit will go forward, so there's still a possibility that the cuts may not stand.

Not that a lot of Texans would really care too much if the cuts go through, because really, it's a simple matter of fairness. The first comment in reply to the Dallas Morning News story on the cuts probably reflects the attitudes of many:

"Why should those who work go without when thosese [sic] who wont or don't get all medical for free?" Excellent point! If you're going to have a severely disabled child, make sure you can afford it, you lousy takers.

[Texas Observer / Dallas Morning News / Image provided by Jessica Huffman to Texas Observer]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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