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State Reaches out

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              

SEPTEMBER 15, 2004                                                      


COLLEEN MILLER 804-225-2042




Children with disabilities and children from low income families will soon learn more about special services that are available to help them.  In response to a lawsuit filed last month, the state=s Department of Medical Assistance Services has agreed to notify four hundred thousand children in Virginia about these special medical services that are available to them.  These are children who are entitled to receive medical and other services under a federal Medicaid program, known as Early and Periodic Diagnostic Screening and Treatment.  As a part of the program, the state is required to seek out all children who may be entitled to the services and be certain that they know about them and know how to access them.

In the suit filed last month, the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy (VOPA) alleged that the Department may have failed to fulfill its responsibilities to notify children about the program, based on complaints received by VOPA.  Without admitting to the allegation, the Department of Medical Assistance Services agreed to notify some 400,000 children about the Medicaid program and the wide range of services that might be available to them under it.  In addition, the Department announced its intention to develop a new Member Handbook to include specific, detailed and understandable information on the Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment program.  The Department committed to train Department of Social Services personnel on the program and to conduct a training session for all Medicaid Case Managers and Service Facilitators on the topic of EPSDT.  Finally, the Department stated that it will revise its EPSDT informational brochure by October, 2004, and send it to all EPSDT eligible persons.

Medicaid is the federal health care program making low or no cost services available to people with disabilities and children in poverty.  As a participant in the federal Medicaid program, Virginia is required to offer certain children Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment services, which are intended to provide comprehensive healthcare and health-related services to eligible children.  Eligible children with disabilities can receive any healthcare services or treatment necessary to cure, lessen or help their disabilities, under EPSDT, and the state has an obligation under the program to seek out eligible children and tell them about the wide range of necessary services that may assist them.

AWe are very pleased with the plans that the Department has announced.  Hopefully, these steps will help hundreds of thousands of kids to get the services they need to live happy and healthy lives,@ Colleen Miller, Executive Director of the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy said.  >The Department has demonstrated a true commitment to serving these children, and we are grateful for that.  We support the promises that they have made to