Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do you know your child may qualify for Medicaid based on their disability?

Over the years I've lurked around more internet discussion groups of parents whose kids have similar medical problems than I can remember. One of the things that I've noticed far too frequently is that parents frequently aren't aware that their child can qualify for Medicaid (and hence for EPSDT) all of their own. Every state has what are called Medicaid Waiver Programs. This is a wonderful website where you can look your state up and get the contact information for every waiver program offered in your state. The figures are from 2005, but it gives you a great jumping off point to find out what to look for on your own state's website. Waiver programs don't look at the income and assets of the family -- they only look at the income and assets of the individual. For kids with disabilities, each state has different programs, some including autism-specific programs. Don't assume that if you child qualifies for a Medicaid waiver program, somebody somewhere along the line would surely have told you so. Between the waiver programs and EPSDT, if your child requires skilled care, your child will get it. If they need nursing, they get skilled nursing. If they need a full time attendant, they will get it. Whatever a doctor says is medically necessary for your child, your child will get it. That isn't to say that the state is going to hand you the services as soon as you ask for them. But the start is knowing that your child is entitled to them. The process of fighting for them is worth the effort, because nobody can tell you how far your child could progress if they really truly received all the services they need.

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About Me

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I'm the mom of a child with disabilities. Hannah's first neurologist said she might never develop beyond the level of a 2 month old infant, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. The brain damage was just too severe. Nine years later, she walks, uses a touchscreen computer and I've just been shown she can learn to construct sentences and do simple math with the right piece of technology. Along the way, I discovered I needed to teach myself what Hannah's rights to services really were. Learning about early intervention services led to reading about IDEA and then to EPSDT. I've been waiting for the Obama administration to realize the power and potential of EPSDT for the medical rights - including the right to stay at home with their families - of children with disabilities. The health reform people talk about long term care, and the disability people talk about education and employment, but nobody is talking about EPSDT. So I am.