Nebraska DD Network Eyes Possible Affordable Care Impact (NE UCEDD)

August 21, 2013

Jim Stimpson, Ph.D., speaks on the Affordable Care Act.
Jim Stimpson, Ph.D., speaks on the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid is a core program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

That's why the implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were the focus of an early summer meeting between members of the advisory boards for Munroe-Meyer Institute's (MMI) Center for Excellence in Disabilities, the Nebraska Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities and the Disability Rights Nebraska Advisory Council.

The entities represent the three federal Developmental Disabilities (DD) programs in Nebraska. Speakers at the event included Jim Stimpson, Ph.D., from the UNMC College of Public Health Center for Health Policy, State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist and Mary Andrus from the National Office for Easter Seals.

The meeting helped facilitate discussion among the groups as to what needs to be done to help protect services that are already in place and to advocate for expansion of certain limited services, said Wayne Stuberg, Ph.D., associate director of MMI.

"The state has limited resources, so not everything can be done," he said. "But for those things needed as base-level supports, to allow people to be participatory in our society, at a minimum that's what we must strive to have available."

Dr. Stimpson said the ACA provides opportunities for persons and families with developmental disabilities, many of whom use Medicaid.

Families need to educate themselves on the act, said Dr. Stimpson, director of the Center for Health Policy in the College of Public Health.

He acknowledged that the act was complex.

"It's a very long, complicated legislation," he said. "There are 91 different provisions to be implemented."

"But Medicaid is a major resource for people with developmental disabilities, and I think it's important that they keep on top of the state policies," Dr. Stimpson said.

The federal DD programs need to provide a voice for people with special needs so they can access that power, Dr. Stuberg said. "Because of their experience in life, they may not have quite as loud a voice as the average citizen in the state of Nebraska. That's a main purpose of these federal programs in our state -- to help citizens have that voice."