Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2023 Oct 20:1-8. doi: 10.1080/17483107.2023.2272849. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Unmet needs for assistive technology (AT) contribute to health and quality of life disparities among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) [1-4]. The biggest barrier people with IDD face accessing technology is affordability and a lack of funding [1,3-6]. The purpose of this study was to examine how AT were provided to people with IDD in Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in the United States, the largest funding source for Long-Term Services and Supports for people with IDD.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We analysed Medicaid HCBS 1915(c) waivers for people with IDD from across the USA in fiscal year (FY) 2021 using content analysis and descriptive statistics.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: In FY2021, 31 states and the District of Columbia provided AT (stand-alone and combined services) through 68 waivers for people with IDD to improve functioning, communication, independence, and community integration. In total, $63.3 million was projected for the AT services for 23,753 people with IDD. Average spending per person on AT services was $2,663. We found significant variability in terms of how states allocated AT to people with IDD in their HCBS programs. Not only were less than 3% of people with IDD with HCBS projected to receive assistive technology services, there was also large variance across services and states. Assistive technology promotes the health, safety, quality of life, independence, and community integration of people with IDD – they align with the very aims of HCBS, and thus, should be expanded.