Improving Access to Care for Children with Disabilities Under Obamacare

Originally published by New American Media, this article was written by Fi2W reporter Cristina Pastor.

Zariah Jimenez, a young girl with autism, regularly reports to two specialist doctors. Paying her medical costs would be financially draining, but her mother made sure she is covered under the government’s Medicaid for Individuals with Disabilities (MID).

“As one with a documented disability, she has actually the highest coverage available,” said her mother Cheryl Ocampo. “We don’t pay anything.”

MID covers Zariah’s visits to her doctors while the New York City schools pay for her therapy visits. Her policy also pays her dental care, emergency calls and the services of an In-Home Community Habilitation specialist who comes to the house and helps with her homework, tooth brushing, handwriting, socialization, feeding and other daily living skills.

“No co-pay (from us),” said Ocampo, who works as an information and outreach specialist for the United We Stand of New York nonprofit advocating for families with disabilities. “There are other services that she can be eligible for, but she does not need them at this time.”

Zariah, now 11, has been under MID coverage since she was 3. With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in effect as of October 1st — Congress is currently debating a proposal to delay its implementation – the universal health care law should “not impact” her current Medicaid insurance, say advocates.

As a matter of fact, they said, the new law ensures the expansion of Medicaid coverage that will benefit Zariah in the long term. Starting in 2014, income eligibility for Medicaid will be 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) in every state, said Lorraine Gonzalez-Camastra, director of health policy of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York.

The passage of ACA is seen as serving more children with disabilities for two principal reasons according to Noilyn Abesamis Mendoza, director of Health Policy of the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families. They will not be discriminated against because of pre-existing conditions, and adult children up to the age of 26 will remain under their parents’ health care coverage.

Keep reading this article on The FilAm.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation and the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation.

AboutCristina DC Pastor
Cristina DC Pastor, a former Fi2W Business and Economics Reporting fellow, is the publisher and editor of The FilAm ( Her book, “Scratch the News: Filipino Americans in Our Midst” (Inkwater, 2005), is a celebration of ordinary citizens at the center of extraordinary stories. She is a graduate of The New School.