‘Needs their care’: Latino families meet to discuss ongoing TennCare negotiation battle

BARTLETT, Tenn. — The waiting game continues for Mid-South families who have TennCare or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee health insurance.

Parents say they still don’t know when or how their children will be able to be treated at Le Bonheur.

Frustration, anxiety, those are just some of the feelings Latino parents expressed during a meeting in Bartlett on Friday night.

The topic of conversation is the ongoing contract negotiations between Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

Most of the families in the room are covered by the state’s TennCare or Blue Cross’s BlueCare because some of their children have special needs.

One family said through a translator they feel like their options are even more limited for healthcare.

Francisca Thomas said that her 16-year-old son has autism.

“He has a valve on his brain and he has an appointment on Feb. 22; he will have surgery,” she said.

She was one of more than a dozen parents who sat in a Latinos United For Children Education and Services meeting on Friday night to ask questions and learn more about what it means.

“I don’t know, I’m worried because he has special needs. He needs their care,” she said.

She said he’s supposed to have his next appointment and a surgery coming up in February, but when she called to find out the status, she got this response.

“I called the hospital and they said they’d call her one day before the surgery because they’re under negotiations.”

Another family in the meeting was Luis Castrejon and Maria Cortes, who have a 16-year-old daughter with autism.

They said she was given medication as a child, and when that didn’t work, they installed a VNS pacemaker to reduce the seizures.

“That VNS pacemaker has a battery that needs to be replaced every 3-4 years and she needs surgery to replace the battery,” said Castrejon.

As of Friday afternoon, there was still no negotiation.