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Public Funding and Support of Assistive Technologies for Persons with Disabilities

Government funding of the range of assistive technologies is a patchwork, the overall effect of which is incomplete and irregular. Medicare and Medicaid coverage is limited because these are health care programs that generally require substantiation of medical necessity, rather than an improvement in functioning, in order to fund assistive technologies.

To provide a clearer understanding of the government role in supporting functioning through the use of assistive technologies, this AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Paper presents:

  • Detailed information on major government health care programs’ coverage of assistive technologies
  • Information on nonhealth care programs that support the use of assistive technologies by persons with disabilities
  • A three-state analysis of the degree to which private sector programs are available to fill in the gaps in government coverage of assistive technologies
  • Estimates, where possible, of the costs of assistive technologies and data on sources of payment

Using the limited data available, the authors conclude that overall spending on assistive technologies in 2002 amounted to roughly $15–$20 billion. These data also indicate the substantial burden that assistive technologies place on individuals’ finances – over half the cost of assistive technologies is paid for out-of-pocket. (72 pages)

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