Disabilities :: Workers with disabilities can now buy medicaid benefits

Texas workers with disabilities now can apply for extended health insurance benefits even if their income exceeds traditional Medicaid limits.

Medicaid provides health-care services for about 300,000 low-income Texans who have disabilities. The traditional program provides coverage for a Texan with a disability earning up to $604 per month, or $7,252 a year, for a single person. The new Medicaid Buy-In program began September 1, 2006.

?Under the traditional program, a worker who has a disability sometimes had to choose between a higher-paying job without insurance or staying in a lower-paying job to keep their Medicaid coverage,? said Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins. ?This new program eliminates that difficult decision and allows workers to earn more without the fear of losing their health-care coverage.?

The Medicaid Buy-In Program, authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2005, allows workers who have a disability to receive Medicaid by paying a monthly premium. The premium is based on the person?s income and other factors.

?This program essentially allows workers who have disabilities to leverage the buying power of the state?s $18-billion-a-year Medicaid program,? Hawkins said. ?It?s an innovative program that expands coverage in a cost-effective way.?

People in the Medicaid Buy-In program will have access to the same Medicaid services available to adult Medicaid recipients, which include office visits, hospital stays, X-rays, vision services, hearing services and prescriptions.

Workers with disabilities who want to find out whether they qualify for the Medicaid Buy-In program can call 2-1-1 for more information or to locate an office where they can apply. For more information, visit www.hhsc.state.tx.us/medicaid/buy_in_QNA.html.

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