SALT LAKE CITY — Bill sponsor Rep. Edward H. Redd, R-Logan, said HB100 would extend Medicaid benefits, set to expire this year, for disabled children.
The bill would also provide medical insurance based on factors including complexity of the medical condition and financial need in an effort to support and keep families together, according to Redd.
The bill passed the House and awaits a hearing in a Senate committee.
In 2016 Redd helped to start a temporary program that provided respite care for disabled children three hours per week.
Redd said families with disabled children often go bankrupt multiple times trying to cover the bills and may ultimately end up releasing the child to the care of the state.
Utah resident Patricia Richardson said her daughter would benefit from HB100.
“When my daughter was two, we were drowning in medical debt with private insurance,” Richardson said. “We can’t save for a car, we can’t save for a house, we can’t do anything without this waiver.”
Funding would continue to go to children under age 19 with medical conditions that meet the Utah government’s definition of disability. A disability is a condition which results in severe functional limitations and is likely to last longer than 12 months or result in death.
Although the bill does not seek to change the definition of disability, it does allow the program to change eligibility criteria if the program runs out of funding.
“It’s a huge benefit if families can stay together and function together to take care of these children,” Redd said, “The other children inside these families have a very significant benefit of being raised in a much more stable, less stressful environment.”
Redd said this program may save the state money because the cost per month for home care is much less than state custody care.
Eighty-four percent of enrolled patients already have primary insurance, which often paid for partial benefits and reduced government cost, according to Redd.
Kris Fawson, with the Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities, spoke in favor of the bill.
“This (waiver) has been a dream for a long time,” Fawson said. “To finally see it come through to fruition is a fantastic thing for these families.”