Document Type

Policy Brief


The University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies.

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Abstract/ Summary

Changes to Medicaid financing structure should be carefully considered because any change could have a potentially negative impact on children with disabilities and special health care needs (hereafter referred to as children with disabilities) and limit their access to critically needed health care services and community supports. Currently, Medicaid funding operates through a state and federal partnership, with the federal government providing 60% of funding on average. A cornerstone of Medicaid is the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) child health benefit. This program offers vital support services to children with disabilities, including early and periodic screenings, comprehensive wellness checks, and timely immunizations.

Historically, a majority of Americans have held a favorable view of the Medicaid program. Additionally, many individuals currently benefit from the program. In the state of Maine, 4 in 10 children benefit from Medicaid services – many of whom have disabilities. Since 1965, Medicaid has provided low or no-cost health care to low-income families of children with disabilities who would not otherwise be able to afford developmentally and medically necessary supports and services. Medicaid also fills insurance coverage gaps for privately insured, working families. Medicaid further allows many families the financial means to keep children with disabilities living at home, involved in their communities, and out of institutions (Musumeci & Foutz, 2018). This not only lifts a financial burden off families; states also see downstream economic benefits as services shift to more cost-effective community and home-based settings.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

2017-2018 Cohort of New Hampshire-Maine Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (NH-ME LEND) Program Trainees. (2018, April ). The importance of Medicaid for children with disabilities and special health care needs (PDF). Durham: University of New Hampshire; Orono: University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies.


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