Texas special needs children caught in debate over cuts

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Health care advocates for children and the disabled say the cuts Republicans are proposing to Medicaid are unacceptable. 

They rallied at the Texas State Capitol Wednesday, urging Senators not to roll back Medicaid spending on their proposed health care bill.

"It's sad, and for lack of a better word that's been used a lot, it's just mean," said Gloria Rankin, the mother of a child with Autism.  

Rankin says she's determined to make sure her son has a future. Six-year-old Mason relies on Medicaid-funded in-school therapy. The program appears to be working, and Rankin says she can see the improvements. ​

"He was looked at as possibly just not being able to do anything in the future and just kind of living along and doing nothing. But with the services he's recieved...you know, we don't know where he can go," Rankin said.  

But the Senate's health care bill could spell cuts to Medicaid-funded programs in Texas and across the country. Many who came to Wednesday's rally said they were worried about special needs kids. That’s because some have already lost critical therapy services since the state let $350 million in Medicaid cuts take effect.

"We've already seen families in Texas have lost support for their children because of cuts the Texas legislature made. If the Senate health care bill passes the cuts for Texans with disabilities would be much, much bigger," said Peter Clark, a spokesperson for Texans Care for Children.  

Children make up the majority of Medicaid recipients in Texas, with three in four Medicaid recipients being kids. But some Republican lawmakers argue that it’s necessary to put Medicaid on a sustainable path and give states more flexibility. 

Texas' two Republican senators remain split on the proposal. Sen. John Cornyn is still for it, where Sen. Ted Cruz says it doesn't go far enough to repeal and replace Obamacare. Meanwhile, Rankin says she'll keep on fighting for her son. 

"[I] really hope that Senator Cornyn and Senator Cruz can realize that they're affecting actual people," Rankin said.  

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