A Health Care Company Almost Killed A Baby To Save $500 A Day

Julia Cohen | Reporter

The health care company that manages the care of foster children in Texas denied around-the-clock care to a vulnerable toddler, leading him to almost suffocate and live in a permanent vegetative state.

D’ashon Morris’s foster mother, Linda Badawo, begged Superior HealthPlan to allow the toddler to receive 24-hour care. Morris, born prematurely in May 2015, often pulled out the tracheal tube he required to breathe, which could cause him to suffocate.

The company, which manages the health care of Texas’s foster children, had cut back the hours they would cover a nurse to care for Morris. By reducing the amount of care he received, the Superior could save almost $500 a day, The Dallas Morning News reported.

When Badawo attempted to appeal the decision in 2016, she inadvertently overheard Superior officials discussing how to convince Morris’s doctors to side with them in the appeal.

The company eventually upheld their decision to limit Morris’s nurse’s hours. The toddler pulled out his trach in October 2016 and nearly suffocated while his nurse was off duty. As a result of the incident, he is now in a permanent vegetative state.

Reviewing the incident, officials in Texas’s state health department recommended that Superior face penalties for denying Morris proper care. The state has yet to act on the recommendation.

Then Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered the state to look into improving its foster care system in 2005. As a result of the executive order, the Texas state legislature passed a bill in 2006 to privatize the management of foster health care. Previously, Medicaid managed this care. (RELATED: A Single Republican Paves Way For Virginia Medicaid Expansion)

Superior HealthPlan began managing care in April 2008. Since then, they have donated $188,600 to successful state legislature and gubernatorial campaigns in Texas.

“Our focus from day one has been to provide holistic healthcare to meet the needs of children and youth in the foster care system, and I am proud to say that we have done just that,” Cindy Adams, Superior’s plan product president of complex care programs, said in an April 2018 press release celebrating the firm’s 10-year anniversary of managing the foster care health program.

Superior manages the health care of 32,000 foster children in the state of Texas as of April 2018.

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