It is run by the
Because there is no limit to the number of people who can take advantage of the program, the number of enrollees has skyrocketed in recent years. Additionally, while these services already exist in the
As a result, BCMH has consistently run over budget, and is operating on an
According to state health officials, the move to a
Saving the safety net
Though she and her husband work full time, the medical bills would become too overwhelming without help from the program. Casey's epilepsy medication alone costs between
"For middle class families like ours, [BCMH] provides that extra safety net to help purchase a lot of those medications and things," Zimmerly said. "Without BCMH, our family wouldn't have been able to afford to help Casey grow and develop. We might not even have been able to stay in our home or pay the bills."
She also enrolled her son in BCMH, and it has been especially helpful because she had to take a significant time off work to care for him. Her fear is that when she goes back to work, she may not meet the financial eligibility requirements set forth by the new BCMH program.
"If I go back to work full time, I'll be making too much money and he might be off the program," Kuhlman said. "The changes to BCMH are going to hurt working families more than anyone."
"Our concern is that families that are working but have a child with major medical issues will have a drain on their income," Luhn said. "It's important for them to be able to qualify for the program."
The new BCMH proposal grandfathers current participants into the program until they reach age 21, or their medical or financial eligibility changes. The Medicaid BCMH program maintains the same medical eligibility criteria, but raises the financial requirement from 185 percent of the federal poverty line to 225 percent.
State health officials said while current enrollees will not be affected, raising the financial requirement will hurt some families, especially upper-income households, but project that 80 percent of future applicants will still qualify under the 225 percent level.
Officials maintained that altering the financial eligibility structure will establish clearer guidelines for people who are unsure if they qualify. They also said that, because the majority of enrollees are between 185 and 500 percent of the FPL, raising it to 225 will not affect the majority of children on the program.
Losing the local connection
One of the more significant concerns for county health departments is the transition from working with local health care providers to
"Our BCMH nurses form a special bond with the families they see, so I think that is very important," said
"I hope they do the best they can with the resources they have, but we also hope they take advantage of local resources."
"Our public health nurses are familiar with the community and what services are available, as well as knowing who to contact to help make those connections on a local level," Recker said. "Losing that local perspective is more of a handicap for the family."
The ODH has established several resources to help families learn more about the proposed changes to BCMH.
These resources include an overview of the BCMH program and how it will impact families, along with a list of frequently asked questions and medical eligibility requirements for treatment. Parents who have questions concerning coverage or the proposed changes may also send an email to [email protected].
A Facebook page created by parents of BCMH children is available, and can be found at http://bit.ly/2mUyKGC. According to the group's administrators, it is meant as a support system for BCMH parents to share information and resources.
Those wishing to express their questions or concerns about BCMH are also encouraged to contact their state representatives, senators and members of
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