Thursday, September 23, 2010

Proposed Medicaid Rule Change Could Hit Children With Special Needs

BOISE, Idaho -- Facing a shrinking Medicaid budget, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has developed a plan to change the way people spend those few remaining dollars. But it may do so by imposing on already-limited Idaho school funds.
On Sept. 1, Health and Welfare released a final version of a proposal to change the way Idaho classifies two childhood disability programs. The Developmental Therapy and Intensive Behavioral Intervention programs help Medicaid-qualified children who have developmental problems and learning disabilities. Medicaid reimburses public schools for the extra care these children need, and have allowed many such children to join their peers in classrooms.
The proposed rule would change the two programs into "waivered services," which the federal government would not fund in a school setting under Medicaid, IDHW spokesman Tom Shanahan said. Shanahan said the rule change is "cost neutral," allowing children a wider range of options, including respite care, parental education and community-service options, for the same cost. But the only way that can happen is to get less of any one program.

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