While Special Needs Technology Advances Cuts May Be Made to Medicaid
It is exciting to learn that technology giants like Google are working on ways to improve the lives of those with disabilities. At Google’s annual developer conference, CEO Sundar Pichai stated, “We believe technology can help us be more inclusive and (artificial intelligence) is providing us with new tools to dramatically improve the experience for people with disabilities.”
Google went on to share they are working on technologies that will help those with speech impairments communicate by teaching computers to decipher their words and then repeat them. Engineers are also working on adjusting Google Assistant, so non-verbal people will be able to use that technology. It is so exciting to see technology giants like Google turn to the disability community with an eye on accessibility and supported living.
At the same time as we see technology developments that will continue to assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live as independently as possible, we find the main funding source for these folks, Medicaid, coming under continued cost and management scrutinization.
The federal budget proposal submitted to Congress in March 2019 called for deep cuts to Medicaid, and a possible change to the mechanics of its funding. At this time, Medicaid is a dollar matching program between the federal and state governments, with no limit as to the number of enrollees. Some states and some at the federal level are asking to change this method of funding to a block grant method.
Block grant gives a set amount of federal funding each year to each state, and the state determines how to spend it. This type of funding allows states more flexibility, but the concern from disability groups is the money would then be limited and not adequate.
“These proposals often don’t think about the disability community—more people being moved into community services, more technology needs, more focus on person-centered plans—and the costs that go along with making those dramatic shifts,” said Esme Grewal, vice president of government relations at the American Network of Community Options and Resources, or ANCOR.
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As we hear the great news of technological advancements for those with IDD, we then hear of possible cuts to funding that will allow these technological advancements to be implemented and truly help individuals live as independently as possible. The reality is cost cutting is not going away, and technological strides will continue to move forward.
Due to these two stark contrasts, it is imperative that families understand the macroeconomic, fiscal landscape combined with their loved one’s abilities and how technology may be used to enhance their loved one’s life. By having an understanding of these two items, families will need to ensure that they determine how best to provide their child the ability to have access to these new technologies even if government benefits are not available to pay for them.
This means that families need to have a PLAN and need to understand how best to use government benefits when available and then marry those benefits with the ability to provide for their child through their own private funds for the items that will truly provide as much autonomy as possible for their child.
For more information on how to prepare for the future, be sure to contact a financial advisor who specializes in serving families with special needs. A Special Needs Plan is driven by their purpose of leading families to independence through an ongoing multi-generational plan. A Special Needs Plan is passionate about families confidently moving forward.
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This article was featured in Issue 91 – Great Back-to-School Strategies