Katie Beckett Waiver May Help Tennessee Families with High Medical Bills
By: Austin Thompson – MTN Reporter
High medical bills are causing some families in Tennessee
financial headaches even though they have insurance.
However, there is a bill in the state legislature that may
provide some relief, if passed.
In 1981, president Ronald Regan introduced America to
three-year-old Kate Beckett, who was fighting for her life
in a hospital. He advocated for children just like Katie that
they deserve to be cared for at home.
In a White House Briefing, President Ronald Regan
addressed the issue head on.
“By what sense do we have in government that we’ll pay
$6,000 a month to keep someone in a hospital that we
believe would be better off at home,” Regan said.
More than 30 years later, a state representative and a
nonprofit are looking to help families of children with
severe illnesses and disabilities cope with the financial
burden medical bills can bring.
“You have a child who goes to the emergency room and
gets one bill that’s over $1 million you have a tough choice
to make,” said Sarah Sampson, Deputy Director of
Tennessee Disability Collation.
“Some families will move to states that do have a Katie
Approximately 3,600 children will benefit from a Katie
Beckett waiver, according to Sampson.
State Representative Sam Whitson is sponsoring the waiver
in the house. While it’s slowly passing through the various
state subcommittees, there are over 40 states that already
offer similar Katie Beckett waivers, except Tennessee.
“What we want to do is to be able to provide those families,
who may make too much money, and they don’t qualify for
Medicaid to be able to receive benefits for their severely
disabled children with complex medical problems,”
The waiver has a price tag of $45 million dollars the state
would have to contribute, however, Whitson does not see
this as an expansion of Medicaid.
“Were not really expanding Medicaid, we’re just making
sure those families don’t go broke or go into bankruptcy or
divorce to qualify for the coverage that’s already there,”
While there was applause at the TennCare subcommittee’s
meeting last week, it will be up to legislators whether the
price tag is beneficial to Tennesseans.