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Barriers to Navigating Medicaid for People With IDDs

For families and caregivers, meeting the medical needs of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDDs) can be a significant ongoing challenge in itself. Unfortunately, government health assistance programs like Medicaid, which are intended to support people with IDDs, often do anything but because of their complexity and restrictions. Here’s what you need to know about the barriers to navigating Medicaid coverage—and how to overcome them.



  • Government assistance isn’t centralized or user-friendly. Medicaid is just one program in what is often described as a patchwork of government healthcare assistance. It has intricate and confusing rules, and it requires a great deal of paperwork. It’s far less easy to use than private insurance, making it incredibly difficult for the people who most need it to enroll in Medicaid and maintain coverage.


  • Medicaid funding is subject to political bias. Medicaid programs are funded jointly by states and the federal government. How much funding a state provides depends on its other spending priorities and the political views of state decision makers. Strongly conservative Republican states have a well-documented history of cutting Medicaid funding.


  • Annual re-enrollment is required and difficult. Prior to the pandemic, Medicaid recipients were required to verify their eligibility for coverage and re-enroll each year to continue receiving benefits. This is an arduous and complex process because of the documentation-gathering required to prove Medicaid eligibility. In addition, recipients may not even receive notification that they need to begin or complete this process.


  • Pandemic Medicaid protections have expired. Early in the pandemic, Congress created protections that prevented states from dropping Medicaid coverage to people for failing to re-enroll. That protection expired on March 31, 2023, which means that all Medicaid recipients will again have to re-enroll each year to keep their coverage.


  • Many healthcare providers refuse to treat Medicaid recipients. Medicaid’s complex coverage rules are notoriously difficult for medical administrative staff to decipher for billing purposes; coverage is also tightly capped in many states, leading to inadequate payouts and protracted billing disputes. Consequently, internet searches for “doctors who accept Medicaid near me” can yield few results.

What You Can Do

Governments and healthcare policy makers must make systemic changes to Medicaid and other health assistance programs to make it easier for patients and healthcare providers to receive adequate coverage for the care they need. In the meantime, you can get help navigating Medicaid from your state Medicaid office and online resources.


Navigate Life Better With Progressive Lifestyles



Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. is dedicated to providing innovative support services for people with disabilities. Our mission is to provide supportive and caring residential opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Oakland County, Michigan.



A primary focus of our organization is to interact with the individuals we support through the “Culture of Gentleness” model. We seek to create a positive environment to help them feel safe and valued while maximizing praise, limiting demands, maintaining consistent structure, and reducing stress during transitions.


We are hiring! No experience? No worries! You bring a warm heart and we'll teach you how to be a fantastic caregiver plus give you skills that you can use to further your career. Apply now!


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