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September 22, 2015      8:04 PM

Updated: Judge blocks the state from implementing severe cuts to services for disabled kids

TRO granted after tearful testimony from mothers of kids who fear they’ll lose services

Calling his courtroom a “way-station” on the path to inevitable appeals, state district court Judge Tim Sulak granted a temporary injunction this afternoon to plaintiffs in a lawsuit over controversial new Medicaid pay rates for pediatric therapy.

The proposed rates would have slashed by up to 26 percent what Texas pays physical, occupational and speech therapists who treat poor children with severe disabilities. Today’s injunction stops the new rates from kicking in as planned on October 1st, a plan Health and Human Services Commissioner Chris Traylor has stuck to even as hundreds of stakeholders and more than 50 state lawmakers, including the chairs of Senate Finance and House Appropriations, have lodged their objections about the way the policy is being implemented.

This ended a two-day trial in which the state argued first that Judge Sulak had no jurisdiction (he disagreed) and that the plaintiffs would be unable to demonstrate the likely harm of implementing the rates.

After hearing testimony from two mothers of disabled children who said their therapy providers would go out of business if the cuts were implemented, Judge Sulak granted the injunction and concluded, “There has obviously been credible showing of imminent and irreparable injury for the plaintiffs.”

By Emily DePrang