TEFRA stands for Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, and was enacted by President Reagan. Basically, it was made so that working parents of disabled kids could afford to keep their children at home rather than having to place them in an institution. The way the welfare system usually works, is that once your income goes above a certain level, you are ineligble for benefits. This encourages people to not work. Working parents, who are trying to do the right thing, would lose their children to institutions because they could not afford medical bills associated with these children, and made too much money to apply for government assistence. TEFRA works (or used to work) differently. Instead of the parents' income, eligibility is determined based on the child's income. Parents can work (and pay taxes), and keep their children at home.However, as everyone knows, Arkansas has had a budget crisis. Gov. Huckabee, in all his infinite wisdom, decided that since only about 3000 kids were on this program, it would be a good thing to cut. Of course, chaos soon followed this announcement, and much rallying occurred. Both Republican and Democratic congressmen united to get this program restored, and worked together to find a way to get funding. They were successful, but Huckabee was mad at them for not approving a measure he wanted earlier, so refused to call a special session. Finally, a compromise was reached in the medicaid office, with input from parents, although parents did not approve the final plan. Now, TEFRA parents pay a premium for their child's services, based on their income. I'm not totally opposed to this idea, except that I feel we are being penalized for working. If my husband and I stayed home, we would get food stamps, WIC, SSI, welfare checks, housing subsidies, and free healthcare. As it is, we have to pay. And, the system is broken. The collection of these payments has been outsourced to somewhere in Missouri, and is messed up. My son was without insurance for 3 months due to a clerical error. One one of our recent visits to the pharmacy, his medicaid was denied as it was now to be used only for family planning. That's right. Family planning for an 8 year old boy. He can get birth control pills, but no anti-epileptic drugs. That was eventually straightened out, but it doesn't really matter as he can no longer visit his doctor. The new TEFRA stopped payment to her, and now her office is suing us.Anyway, I was infuriated with Gov. Huckabee over his callous treatment of this issue. He even had the gall to tell parents that he understood what it was like to raise a disabled child, as his son had tubes in his ears as a child. Patooie! Come back and talk to me when your son has tubes put in his brain! So, I voted for Jimmie Lou in '02, and, although she lost, I found it impressive that she garnered nearly 50% of the vote against an incumbent Republican governor.
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