Assistive Technology, Disabled Texans, and Medicaid
This article provides information on assistive technology that could be provided for disabled Texans by Medicaid. It is excerpted from a paper by the National Assistive Technology (AT) Advocacy Project of Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.
The term "assistive technology" describes a broad range of medical equipment and devices that can enhance the functional abilities of individuals with disabilities. The term "assistive technology device" means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
The term "assistive technology service" means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.
As defined, the term “AT device” encompasses a wide array of equipment, including but not limited to:
- Power and manual wheelchairs
- Speech Generating Devices (SGDs, also referred to as Alternative/Augmentative Communication Devices)
- Hospital beds
- Prosthetic limbs
- Environmental control units
- Therapy vests for treating respiratory conditions
- Patient lifts, including hydraulic and electronic floor, wall and ceiling lifts
- Assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and personal FM units
- Personal Response Systems
- Stair glides
- Standing devices
- Arm and leg braces
- Closed caption television (CCTV) and other vision aids
Medicaid coverage of an AT device or service is established when the item or service fits within the definition of one or more benefit categories included in the state plan. This test for Medicaid coverage of medical equipment and supplies has been applied by federal and state courts across the country, spanning several decades, and addressing numerous items of equipment. Consequently, the definition of various categories of service in the state’s Medicaid plan is key to establishing whether an AT device is covered by the state's Medicaid program.