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Why Medicaid Matters to Us in the Long Run

By: Kelie Kyser and Carol Meredith

We have all seen the news lately. Articles are flying left and right about President Elect Donald Trump and how this administration will affect our country. Of particular interest to our community is the topic of healthcare; specifically Medicaid, the foundation for many of the supports and services people with disabilities rely upon. Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) is the entryway for people with I/DD to access long-term supports and services (LTSS).

In the news, you may have heard politicians on the state and federal level talking about cutting entitlement programs, and MEDICAID is one of the programs they are referring to.

MEDICAID pays for the cost of care for people with disabilities who require support for a lifetime, which is why we often refer to it as “the lifeline” of our community.

Did you know LTSS are NOT covered by other health insurance policies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, or Medicare? While these plans do cover the cost of certain therapy expenses, home health care, or nursing home care for a short period; most do not provide coverage for these services for more than 90 days.

Let’s put things in perspective and talk about what this means for the residents of Arapahoe and Douglas Counties with I/DD. The charts below (which can be enlarged by clicking on the accompanying links) illustrate the counties’ dependence on the Home and Community Based Services Waiver by the population. This waiver fits under the umbrella of LTSS we talked about earlier.


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The long-term supports and services the HCBS Waiver provides include: personal care (eating, dressing, bathing, hygiene, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry), day programs, supported employment, supported community connections, and more. And as you know, these are the services our folks need to live and thrive in the community.

Political jargon is confusing and sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots and make sense of things that directly impact our lives. Which is why starting this month and throughout the next year, we hope to do a better job of breaking down concepts. We want you to be informed about the policy that affects you and your loved ones so that when it’s time to “make our voice heard” you will understand exactly why it’s so critical.

If you are interested in learning more about public policy issues that impact people with IDD, you may visit our website, sign up for The Arc’s Disability Advocacy Network, or email Kelie at [email protected] to sign up for Action Alerts.

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