Friday, January 8, 2010

CDREA gets Feds to acknowledge EPSDT includes civil rights, not just legal

The Children's Disability Rights Education Association received an email today from the DHHS Office for Civil Rights confirming there are civil rights implications of EPSDT.

States, Medicaid agencies and schools have long treated services included within EPSDT as their prerogative to limit as they see fit.  Essentially they have been relying on the broad leeway Federal law gives the states in implementing Medicaid programs.

Today's confirmation from OCR that there are civil rights associated with EPSDT means states that deny, reduce or limit medically necessary services to a child with disabilities on Medicaid are likely violating the civil rights of that child.

That's a whole lot bigger thing.

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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.