As Google search results indicate, many more Americans have grown concerned about losing their (or a family member’s) Medicaid benefit. We at UCP are receiving an increasing number of inquiries about Medicaid and the services and supports it provides for many individuals with disabilities and their families.
Even without a pending health care bill in Congress, it can be overwhelming to navigate the process of accessing the funding and benefits necessary to receive the support needed so you or your loved one can live a life without limits. While there is no one way to simplify the process, there are ways to make it a bit easier. The tips and tricks below will help you in your conversations with Medicaid and other agencies.
When you’re done checking out our tips, you will also find a PDF guide with the contact information for Medicaid (and related agencies in all 50 states) at the bottom of this post.
Keep Records of All Conversations, and Be Sure to Seek Clarification When Necessary:
Whenever calling your state or any other entity) regarding services and supports, be sure to keep notes about your conversation including: who you speak with , what department they are in, what department they refer you to, and any other pertinent details.
This is really important in the case that there is any confusion or conflicting information during the process , because you will be able to provide past information about what you were told and when.
It is also a great idea to ask the person you are speaking to to follow up with an email, if possible; that way you are able to see their summary of the conversation, and open up a dialogue that may help in the future should there be any misunderstandings.
Remember That State and Federal Agencies Are Not Identical:
When working with Medicaid, or any other government program or agency, it is important to be aware of the difference between the agency in your state, and the federal agencies in Washington, DC.
While agencies can be connected, the state agency handles state programs and issues and the federal agency counterpart handles national ones. When getting information about services and supports, it is vital to differentiate between what is available and provided by your state, and what might also be available on the national level.
This is also key because these differences affect how programs are funded, and may alter the process required to become eligible. Sometimes programs may be jointly run on the state and national level, but it is still important to be aware of when you’re talking to, or about, your individual state versus when you’re looking at things on a national level.
Not All States Run Programs the Same Way, (or a Call Agencies by the Same Name):
Another reason it is important to be aware of the difference between state and federal programming is because the way programs, such as Medicaid, are administered can vary significantly from state to state.
Therefore, be sure to investigate how things are run in your specific state, and not go off of the experiences of an individual who may live someplace else. A program that is provided through the Department of Health and Human Services in one state may be provided through the Department of Welfare in another.
Before getting discouraged and thinking something doesn’t exist, always remember to try a different name or department, because you never know what it might fall under in your state.
Always Ask for Other Options:
Just because one program, grant, or service is not an option for you, doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there that can help with your situation. Even if you find out that the program you are looking into will not work (or be available) based on for your situation,, be sure to ask the person you’re speaking with if they know of any other programs that may be able to help.
When considering your options, it is also important to remember that different programs have different eligibility requirements. So, be sure to provide as much information as possible to determine if you are eligible for a specific program.
Obtaining services through Medicaid (or other agencies) is rarely a simple process, but we hope that these tips– as well as our guide of various state offices involved in the administration of services and supports for individuals with disabilities– will make your journey a bit easier.
Do you have any other tips or tricks you would like to add to the list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #KnowMedicaid. To learn more about Medicaid in your state, check out our resource guide.