Tenco: Proposed Medicaid cuts would be 'detrimental'

Tenco Executive Director Cheryl Plank and client, Joshua Pumphrey shake hands Monday/KTVO

Administration and staff at Tenco Industries in Ottumwa are afraid the services it provides to disabled clients could be jeopardized by Republican efforts to cut back on Medicaid.

KTVO spoke with two Tenco moms whose sons depend on it.

Sam Walker, 27, of Ottumwa, requires around-the-clock care.

He needs someone to help him bathe, eat, and make it to his daily shift at Tenco Industries.

At just nine months old, Walker was diagnosed with a severe intellectual disability and autism.

His mom, Leisa Walker told KTVO Medicaid covered all of Walker's home care services, up until the state privatized Medicaid earlier this year.

After that, the family's Managed Care Organization said Walker's budget was too high, so it started making critical cuts.

Like millions of Americans, Leisa Walker fears the Republican-proposed health care bill could make matters worse.

"This is a really scary and terrifying time for anybody right now who is under the Affordable Care Act for insurance or anybody whose loved ones rely upon Medicaid," Leisa Walker said.

Walker is one of 300 clients at Tenco who could be affected by this change.

"It would be detrimental to a lot of our clients," said Tenco Executive Director Cheryl Plank.

Like Joshua Pumphrey, 33, of Ottumwa, who was born three months premature.

Pumphrey is also fortunate to have family support. That won't always be the case, though. Pumphrey's mom, Deb said she's not getting any younger.

"I’m quite a bit older and won't always be around to manage his care and to take care of him," Deb Pumphrey said.

Right now, Pumphrey is content with life. Deb Pumphrey would like to keep it that way. But she can only do so much before turning to Medicaid.

"My understanding of the new bill is there's a lifetime limit and he (Joshua Pumphrey) utilizes quite a number of dollars every month for his independent living," Deb Pumphrey said.

If things go south, Pumphrey and Walker are two of the few who have back-up financial support from family.

"If we get cuts, we're fortunate,” Leisa Walker said. “My husband has a good job and we'll just keep paying for what he (Sam Walker) needs."

But most clients at Tenco don't have a Plan B.

"I know these other families and it breaks my heart because they aren't going to get what they need,” Leisa Walker said.

After pulling the bill from the floor earlier this week, Republican senators are scrambling to find a version of the bill that can get 50 votes

In the meantime, Wapello County Republican Trudy Caviness recommends taking a closer look at the bill.

Caviness is in favor of dismantling the current law of the land…Obamacare.

"Change is hard, change is always fearful, because you don't know what's going to happen,” Caviness said. “But you've got to take time to read it, you've got to take time to communicate with your legislators and both, whether it's a Republican or Democrat."

And it's not too late to do so. KTVO reached out to U.S. Senator Joni Ernst who said:

"Over the last few years, I have been traveling around Iowa to hear firsthand about what Iowans would like to see when it comes to health care reform. Iowans have made clear to me that they are looking for affordable, and patient-centered health care solutions. I am continuing to carefully look through the revised health care discussion draft, which is subject to change during the amendment process. Iowans' input is critical as we examine the draft to see how it will affect insurance availability and affordability in 2018 and beyond."

The unknown still leaves many feeling uneasy.

"My question is always, 'where are these individuals supposed to go once we stop providing care for them?" Leisa Walker said.

"That's a concern of any parent that has anybody who needs help for the rest of their life and you can't blame them," Caviness said.

CLICK HERE to learn more about this bill.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off