A new amendment to the Community HealthChoices (CHC) waiver program which is retroactive to January 1, 2021 will give increased access to assistive technology (AT) for people with a developmental disability (intellectual not primary), physical disability, and/or traumatic brain injury who are enrolled in the CHC waiver. The amendment provides a revised definition of AT and an expanded list of providers who are qualified to provide AT services (including evaluations).
A short history: Before the waiver programs, people with disabilities could only get government services if they lived in an institutional setting (such as a nursing home or an institution). The Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver programs within the Department of Human Services, are designed to support people with disabilities so they can live independently and safely in the community. Because AT is a critical service to help people live in the community, AT devices and services are included in most of Pennsylvania’s waiver programs. Learn more about AT funding under the various waiver programs.
In CHC’s amended AT definition, independence is consistently included as a goal along with a waiver participant’s health, welfare, and safety. In addition, a full range of AT services are included. Most importantly, however, there is now an expanded list of professionals who can conduct an independent evaluation, including a certified Assistive Technology Professional (ATP); an occupational therapist; a speech, hearing, or language therapist; a physical therapist; and professionals with a Rehabilitative Sciences degree.
Why does this matter? Prior to this amendment, CHC waiver participants could only receive an AT assessment from a Durable Medical Equipment provider, which limited access to the full range of AT. (For example, if someone wanted smart home technology, it was not possible to find a Durable Medical Equipment provider who had the expertise and background to conduct an evaluation.) With a broader list of professionals who can provide an evaluation, CHC waiver participants should be able to more easily access a greater variety of assistive technology.
Read the Community HealthChoices waiver amendment.
Navigating funding for your assistive technology can be complicated. That’s why we developed Funding Your Assistive Technology: A Guide to Funding Resources in Pennsylvania, which includes general information on how to create a funding strategy as well as a list of funding resources available in the commonwealth.