Medicaid is an essential program for most people with disabilities. Medicaid is overwhelmingly the largest funding source of long-term individual and family supports in the federal/state IDD service system and the primary source of health care payment for many of our constituents. For the increasing number of individuals with disabilities living with aging parents, Medicaid will continue to be essential to meet their future need for long-term supports and services.
Medicaid is also a powerful driver of economic activity at the state and local levels. When people with disabilities receive needed services, key family members are able to maintain their own employment. When Medicaid-funded service provider agencies are able to retain staff positions, unemployment is reduced and money is put into the hands of individuals who will spend it. In addition, Medicaid reduces healthcare costs by allowing people with disabilities to utilize home and community-based supports and services rather than costly and unnecessary institutionalization.
Many states continue to have inadequate reimbursement rates and reduced services with devastating impact on people with disabilities, their families, and their communities. Today, many of our constituents cannot get necessary health care and long-term services. Further shifting responsibility for Medicaid to the states and allowing states to reduce eligibility and benefits would place many of our constituents, and our nation’s health, therapeutic, and long-term support systems for vulnerable populations, at enormous risk. Decreased Medicaid budgets also mean that hundreds of thousands of people with IDD will remain on waiting lists across the country.
Numerous improvements were made to the Medicaid acute and long-term support and services (LTSS) programs through enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These program improvements must be properly implemented at the federal and state levels in order to work most effectively for people with disabilities. States must be provided with clear guidance on how to effectively use the flexibility and options created by the ACA.