Funding Assistive Technology: Where to Start

Provided by: Muscular Dystrophy Association and written by Alyssa Quintero

Medicare and some private insurance policies generally cover the costs of AAC devices. But Medicare or private insurance isn’t going to pay for more than one device. Nor will Medicare reimburse for the purchase of integrated AAC devices that feature computer-access capabilities or functions like e-mail, Internet or word processing.

Medicare allows you to rent some equipment, while other equipment must be purchased. For speech-generating devices, Medicare pays 80 percent, and you’re responsible for the remaining 20 percent.

States may offer Medicaid waivers to help fund AT; however, Medicaid generally requires recipients to first use other funding sources to obtain needed services. Criteria and eligibility requirements vary from state to state.

Help Where You Live

Your state’s federally funded Assistive Technology Act Program is another possible source. These programs, which operate in all states, work to improve access to AT products and services.

“Your first call should be to your state AT program because they can serve as that first line of contact for people looking for AT information,” said Nell Bailey, project director for RESNA’s (Rehabilitation, Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America) Technical Assistance Project, which operates the state AT programs.

These programs are the experts at putting people in touch with AT resources and providing information about local funding sources. They also offer demonstration, loan, recycling/reuse and equipment exchange programs.

“The state AT projects have the greatest, broadest knowledge of AT products, devices and services,” said John Moore, assistant director of the Texas Technology Access Program. “They know where all the funding sources are in the state and the suppliers of assistive technology.” 
The programs provide short-term equipment loans for people who want to try a device, and replacement devices when AT equipment is being repaired. Typically, these loans can be extended on a case-by-case basis.

Some state programs even donate new or used equipment to clients who can’t afford to purchase their own, especially low-income people with disabilities.

The recycling/reutilization programs sanitize and refurbish donated equipment that’s then donated or sold at an affordable price to clients. Exchange programs help match those who need used equipment with people who have equipment to donate or sell. Some states’ AT programs partner with ATMatch.com, a national marketplace that matches AT donors and sellers with buyers.

Sheila Simmons, project coordinator for the Assistive Technology for Kansans Program, explained, “We are here to help people understand AT, so we provide basic access. Individuals should be able to touch equipment and learn more about it.”

Often, state AT programs help people identify funding sources for which they qualify but weren’t aware of. Staff will evaluate whether a person qualifies for assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation services, state grant programs, including Medicaid waivers, or private organizations.

Find Support

Connect with other parents about Assistive Technology.

Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to parents, caregivers, and professionals about their experiences.

Resources:

Looking for more information on Assistive Technology and Individualized Service Plans?

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
(877) 687-2842 (877) 687-2842
www.atia.org

Alliance for Technology Access
(707) 778-3011 (707) 778-3011
www.ataccess.org

National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership (NATTAP)
(703) 524-6686 (703) 524-6686
www.resnaprojects.org/nattap/#content

DisabilityInfo.gov (AT resources)
www.disability.gov/education/assistive_technology

Bank of America Access loans
(800) 900-9000 (800) 900-9000
www.bankofamerica.com/vehicle_and_personal_loans

Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services
(800) 633-4227 (800) 633-4227
www.cms.hhs.gov

Digital Federal Credit Union
(800) 328-8797 (800) 328-8797
www.dcu.org/loans_visa/mobility_menu.html
Independent Living Research Utilization Directory of Centers
(713) 520-0232 (713) 520-0232
www.ilru.org/html/publications/directory/index.html

Alternative Financing Technical Assistance Project (AFTAP)
(703) 524-6686 (703) 524-6686
www.resnaprojects.org/AFTAP