New aid for Tenn. families struggling to provide for medically fragile children
FRANKLIN, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- Gov. Bill Lee has signed into law a measure making it easier for families caring for medically fragile children to qualify for state and federal aid.
The so-called “Katie Beckett Waiver” passed the Tennessee General Assembly this past spring with rare, bipartisan support.
Rep. Sam Whitson sponsored the measure in the House. The Williamson County Republican says prior to the bill’s passage, the high cost of a child’s medical care often pushed Tennessee parents to extreme measures.
"They would divorce, or they would separate, or they would give up custody of their child so their child could get these services, and so it was just not right."
Rep. Whitson says the legislation signed by the governor last week eliminates income qualifications for aid receipients, but also introduces certain restrictions. The waiver will allow more parents to care for their chronically ill children at home.
Lawmakers included $27 million in new funding to support the waiver. The federal government will match those dollars on a two to one basis.
President Ronald Reagan launched the Katie Beckett Waiver in the 1980s. Tennessee is one of the last states to adopt the program.