Home : Publications :

Funding Health-Related VR Services: The Potential Impact of the Affordable Care Act on the Use of Private Health Insurance and Medicaid to Pay for Health-Related VR Services

By:

Originally published: 1/2013

Funding Health-Related 
VR Services: The Potential 
Impact of the Affordable 
Care Act on the Use of 
Private Health Insurance 
and Medicaid to Pay for 
Health-Related VR Services

Download the full publication in PDF

INTRODUCTION - OVERVIEW

One of the myriad of issues affecting the administration of the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program by State VR agencies under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act is how to maximize access to and use of all available funding sources to pay for VR services and supports for VR applicants and clients. In March 2010, Congress passed and the President signed into law the "Affordable Care Act" (ACA). 1 On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld all of the provisions of the ACA, with the exception of provisions mandating Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court held that if a State chooses not to participate in this expansion of Medicaid eligibility for low-income adults, the State may not, as a consequence, lose Federal funding for its existing Medicaid program.

The ACA includes significant new potential funding sources to pay for health-related VR services and supports, including private health insurance and Medicaid. Under the ACA, essential health benefits, including rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, will be more readily available to an expanded population of persons through the private insurance market. Also, under the ACA an expanded number of persons may, at a State's discretion, receive health care services under the Medicaid program.

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the potential impact of the ACA on the payment for certain health-related VR services, including physical and mental restoration services, assistive technology devices and services, and personal assistance services. According to RSA-2 (Financial Report) for 2011, the total expenditure for diagnoses and treatment of physical and mental impairments by State VR agencies was $263,920,111, which equals 14 percent of the total amount of purchased services. This amount ranged among State VR agencies from less than 1 percent to 69 percent of the total amount for purchased services. For example, the Florida General Agency expended $34,414,379 for diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental impairments, which represented 30 percent of the total amount expended for purchased services. Thus, for certain States, pursuing strategies that minimize expenditures for physical and mental restoration and other health-related services and supports may increase the amount of funds available for other VR services and to expand the number of clients served.

More specifically, the paper will address the following issues: