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      LULAC protests rehab transportation cuts

      LULAC representatives from as far away as San Antonio, health care professionals from across the Rio Grande Valley and state leaders including State Rep. Eddie Lucio III gathered to protest health care cuts, Tuesday at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen.

      They said state budget cuts to Medicaid, specifically the transportation services for indigent children that need to get to and from rehab violates civil rights.

      Organizers add cuts to the transportation program has left about 100,000 children in the Valley without the rehab care they need.

      Child care advocate Mary Helen Barrera said the cuts have also negatively impacted rehab centers and therapists.

      "We had two year olds who were taking two hours to get to rehab, (spend) five hours in the rehabs without food or diapers, without prescribed medications - we saw our children suffer and that is inhumane treatment for a child."

      Attorneys at the protest told Action 4 News that even a state judicial court issued three different injunctions preventing the state from enforcing these transportation cuts.

      The state has already filed an appeal.

      "You have a tremendous amount of children that are not receiving the services because the transportation program has become more stringent on them to be able to access those services - which is a state offered service to begin with," one attorney said.

      Rep. Lucio said by preventing these children from getting the help they need now, the state is creating a bigger problem for tax payers.

      He said children TMs quality of life will be affected and some might end up in state run facilities that will cost much.