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Medicaid for Assistive Technology: 5 Things You Should Know if Your Child Has Special Needs
As a parent of a child with special needs, you know the feeling that no cost is too high when it comes to getting your little one everything they need to thrive. Yet you also know better than most just how high those costs can be. Fortunately, the US and state governments run programs to help you pay for the care and tools your child needs.
If you’re looking for ways to afford assistive technology like the AngelSense GPS Tracker for your child, Medicaid may be the solution. As an enormous program running throughout the US, Medicaid can be challenging to navigate – but doing so successfully can make a tremendous difference to your pocketbook and your child’s well-being.
To help you make sense of what Medicaid covers and how you can get the financial assistance that is available to you, here are five things you should keep in mind.
1. Medicaid covers certain services related to autism
Both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are government-funded programs that provide free or low-cost healthcare to individuals and families who meet certain financial requirements. If your child qualifies for Medicaid or for CHIP, their coverage includes approved services for autism – and that can include assistive technology.
Which services are approved for children with autism? Well, like many questions you’ll have about Medicaid, that depends both on your specific situation and on where you live.
And that brings us to the second thing you’ll want to keep in mind when dealing with Medicaid.
2. Medicaid varies from state to state
Medicaid and CHIP are run jointly by bodies of the federal and state governments. So although Medicaid is a national program governed by federal law, the organization that administers Medicaid where you live answers to your state government. That can make it hard to get simple answers about how Medicaid works – because it works differently in each state.
Different states can have different policies about which services are covered and which are not. Additionally, the process for actually getting the services that you deserve can also differ.
Still, there are many similarities in states throughout the US. After all, the goal of Medicaid is the same in each state, and much of Medicaid policy is set on a federal level.
3. Medicaid covers assistive technology for children – if it’s considered “medically necessary”
Medicaid offers a special set of services for people under age 21, known as Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT). This program gives children a more comprehensive form of coverage than adults get, both in order to discover medical conditions early in life and to treat them. As Medicaid’s EPSDT webpage explains, this initiative requires all state Medicaid systems to provide “services that are coverable under the Federal Medicaid program and found to be medically necessary to treat, correct or reduce illnesses and conditions…”
However, which services are considered “medically necessary” is left to each state to decide. If the type of assistive technology your child needs is not considered medically necessary in your state – there is another way you can apply for funding from Medicaid. And that brings us to a fourth fact you’ll want to keep in mind.
4. You can apply for funding for assistive technology – even if it isn’t deemed “medically necessary”
Regulations for Medicaid and CHIP now reflect federal law that protects individuals with special needs from being separated from their families and peers. Today, every state’s Medicaid program offers resources to help individuals with special needs function without isolating them unnecessarily. And that can include funding for assistive technology for autism, even if it isn’t deemed medically necessary.
To get this kind of financial assistance for your child, you’ll need to get a Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver – sometimes simply called a Medicaid waiver – from your state’s Medicaid system. This waiver is Medicaid’s way of paying for assistive technology on the grounds that it enables a person to function in a less restrictive environment than would otherwise be safe and feasible.
Getting an HCBS waiver can take time, and there are often waiting lists – so there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to get it soon enough to cover the cost of the assistive technology that your child needs. But for many people, the financial assistance they need once they get the waiver makes a powerful difference. For an example of a successful application process, we recommend reading about a mother in NY who received a waiver for a GPS Tracker for her son with autism.
5. There are helpful state and federal resources to help you navigate Medicaid
There is a lot about Medicaid that can be confusing, including the assistive technology application processes and the differences between the Medicaid systems that are offered.
The good news is that there are resources out there that can help you make sense of Medicaid. All US states have information posted online, and the national Medicaid webpage provides details for each state.
To get more information about Medicaid for children in your state, go to www.insurekidsnow.gov or www.healthcare.gov. To find more information about applying for Medicaid in general, visit the national Medicaid website’s FAQ page, and Medicaid’s webpage on services for people with autism.
AngelSense is committed to creating a safer world for children with special needs. We designed the AngelSense GPS tracking solution to give parents the peace of mind that their child is safe at all times.