The Medically Handicapped Children’s Program (MHCP) is a program that provides specialized medical services for families with children with disabilities or ongoing health care needs. These services can include case management, specialty medical team evaluations, access to specialty physicians, and payment of treatment services.
Buried among the budget modifications in the recent budget request from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is a a proposal to potentially eliminate state funding for this program. DHHS estimates this would impact approximately 1,800 people in Nebraska.
Having a child with a disability or an ongoing medical need can create challenges financial and otherwise for many families. Having a program to meet the needs of families in this situation can be a lifeline for families who may not otherwise know where to turn for help.
The impact of eliminating this funding would go beyond the individual because funding this program is used to meet what’s called a federal “maintenance of effort” requirement to receive funds from the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. The block grant funds help the state pay for other important programs that impact the health of babies and mothers as well as some mandated programs like newborn screenings.
Looking at programs like the MHCP for budget savings would be another shortsighted step in the wrong direction. Families who have children with special needs are more likely to be able to continue to be productive workers if they have programs to turn to for assistance in navigating the challenges of caring for their child. Eliminating funds for this program would jeopardize federal funding for many important state programs and potentially leave 1,800 Nebraskans facing new challenges in caring for their children with special needs. We hope that the funding for this program remains intact as the budget debates begin when the Legislature returns to work in January.