Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Disability Law Center Update: Assistive Technology Denial Cases

By Erin Hough

The Disability Law Center (DLC) advocates for individuals to be able to access many different types of assistive technology devices and services. This month, I decided to share some examples of our recent assistive technology cases. Hopefully this helps you better understand our work and current trends.

Example #1: We’ve had success appealing private insurance denials of CoughAssist. 
Child using CoughAssist.
CoughAssist device.

As the name implies, a CoughAssist is a device that helps someone to cough who otherwise wouldn't have that ability. This device was critical for the health and safety of our clients. Nonetheless, a private insurance company (who shall remain nameless) claimed that CoughAssist is investigational and experimental for the treatment of anything other than cystic fibrosis. 

After reviewing the medical literature, we were able to successfully argue that this was not the case, that these devices are actually well-proven and effective for other populations. The insurance company agreed to pay for the devices. If you know of someone in a similar situation, call us! A strong appeal can make all the difference.  

Example #2: We’ve had limited success advocating for students to be able to use their own personal communication devices at school.

I've been hearing more and more about this issue lately. Parents purchase a device for their child, only to find that the child’s school is unwilling to use it. What is the school’s obligation in this situation? 

I'll give you the all-encompassing, all too predictable legal answer: it depends. The law requires that students have access to the technology necessary to benefit from their education and access the general curriculum. The school should also consider the transition needs of the student and the input and materials provided by all members of the team (including the parents and student). 

However, it is ultimately the school’s responsibility to make the decision as to which device or service they feel will best enable the student to access her education, and this may or may not be the device brought from home. Each individual situation is different. Call us if you’d like us to review your particular case regarding AAC devices at school for your child.

Contact the Disability Law Center at 800-662-9080.
Services from the DLC are available to all Utahns with disabilities.

A Reminder: Medicaid will cover communication devices for adults.

Two years ago, the Utah Court of Appeals overturned a state Medicaid policy denying coverage for speech augmentative communication devices (SACDs) for adults over 21. The DLC represented the two clients in related cases. 

Since then, we've heard very little about adults being denied coverage for these devices. We do know there are still challenges, especially for people needing related evaluations or training. If someone you know receives a Medicaid denial of a communication device or related service, call us! 

For that matter, contact us if you’re having any sort of problem accessing a communication device. SACDs are usually considered to be “Durable Medical Equipment,” and they should be covered by most insurance companies. 

I hope you found this glimpse into our work to be enlightening. If so, stay tuned to the UATP Blog for more updates!

This is general information. It is not intended to be legal advice. Only an attorney can give you legal advice to help you with a problem or answer a question. 

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