New Medicaid disability waivers

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Our country’s health-care-reform legislation gives states financial incentives to expand home- and community-based attendant-care services and support to Medicaid patients. Experts say this should translate into enhanced opportunities for Medicaid waivers.

One such waiver is the Katie Beckett Waiver. It allows parents to get their disabled children qualified through Medicaid for home health care, personal assistants and—sometimes—devices to help them to function better without having to spend their parents’ savings or give up assets.

Instead of a waiver, some states have a TEFRA (Tax Equity Fairness and Responsibility Act) program that covers the same population. One big difference is that waiver programs almost always have a limited number of slots; TEFRA has no cap, explains Dawn Wardyga, who is director of Health & Public Policy of Rhode Island Parent Information Network.

Wardyga advises parents in either situation to write detailed statements of how their child’s daily needs compare with those of a healthy sibling or peer of the same age. They also should obtain the same information from their child’s medical providers. Parents must prove that their child’s disabilities are significant enough that they need the extra help at home.

Waivers also are available for the elderly, who can avoid spending their assets.

Editor’s Note: For more information on how health-care reform specifically affects Medicaid, and general information on your personal finances and health care, see our article, “Health-Care Reform: Truth & Consequences—Putting Benefits and Costs Under the Microscope."

S. Berg