Iris Rudder

Iris Rudder

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee recently signed legislation that I cosponsored during the 2019 legislative session that will ensure approximately 3,679 children with long-term disabilities or complex medical needs are allowed to receive healthcare services at home with additional support.

House Bill 498 – known as the Katie Beckett Waiver – directs the commissioner of finance & administration to submit a waiver for the purpose of establishing a Katie Beckett program.

The measure also requires the program to be designed in consultation with the commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) and be composed of two parts.

Part A, a traditional Katie Beckett program, is designed to provide a pathway to eligibility for Medicaid services and essential wraparound home and community-based services regardless of parental income levels, as well as resources for children under 18 years of age with severe functional limitations.

Part B, which would be administered by the DIDD, must be designed as a Medicaid diversion plan and offer a capped package of essential wraparound services and supports as well as premium assistance on a sliding-fee scale for children under 18 that meet the appropriate level of care criteria.

Additionally, House Bill 498 requires a joint report by TennCare and the DIDD to be issued annually to the House TennCare Subcommittee and Senate Health Committee.

Before this legislation passed in the General Assembly and was signed into law by the governor, several Tennessee families had to make very difficult decisions in order to receive critical care and support services for their children.

Advocates of House Bill 498 shared their stories about a couple who divorced in order to impoverish themselves and receive care for their child while other families were told to move to another state.

No family should ever have to make these types of decisions, and I am pleased this legislation will help cover the cost of providing quality care to those families who need it the most.

I am proud to have supported the Katie Beckett Waiver legislation and to have fought for these children and their families.

Iris Rudder represents House District 39. She is the vice-chair of the Government Operations Committee. Representative Rudder also serves on the House Judiciary Committee, the Education Committee, the Children and Families Subcommittee, the House K-12 Subcommittee, and the Education, Health and General Welfare Joint Subcommittee.