State-based assistance for durable medical equipment can come from one of three types of program (excluding Medicaid). There are Assistive Technology Projects, Protection and Advocacy Programs and non-Medicaid, (state-funded) nursing home diversion programs.
Assistive Technology Projects
The federal Assistive Technology Act funds projects in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and 5 U.S. territories. Its aim is to increase aging individuals’ and /or disabled persons’ access to assistive technology. According to the Act, assistive technology (or “AT)” is defined as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” This is a rather broad definition and fortunately most home medical equipment can be included in it.
Each State AT Project is run independently and provides varying services and supports. However, there are components which are common to nearly every state AT project.
Device / Equipment Loan Programs
These programs lend durable medical equipment and assistive technology devices to individuals on a temporary basis. Their primary aim is to allow persons who are looking to buy, to try out the devices first. However, they also make short-term loans to individuals whose equipment is being replaced, repaired or that have a short-term need for whatever other reasons. Loans can last from 2 weeks to 6 months, but the majority of loans are made for less than a month. Some states make exceptions and lend for longer periods to those individuals with terminal illnesses.
Each state has different quantities and types of items available. But generally speaking, the following categories of equipment are available for loan.
- Daily Living Aids
- Augmentative Communication / Sensory Aids
- Computer Hardware and Software
- Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
- Environmental Controls
- Mobility Devices
Personnel working with these device loan programs may also provide expertise in the areas of fitting the equipment and training individuals and caregivers to use the assistive technologies. Most loan programs do not charge individuals for a loan or if they do, the fees are extremely small, perhaps a few dollars.
Device Recycling / Exchange Programs
These programs solicit donations of used medical equipment and assistive devices. They refurbish, sterilize and test the devices to make sure they are functioning properly. Then they re-sell the devices at extremely deep discounts. Another component of these programs are their classified ads and matching services. They maintain lists of equipment for sale locally as well as equipment which is needed. They provide a matching service with no fees to the buyer or seller.
Low Interest Loans and Grants
Most states also have funding available to help individuals buy assistive devices or medical equipment. They may distribute those funds in the form of low interest loans or outright grants. It is worth noting that these organizations may not publicly discuss these programs because they have such limited funds available. One might need to request assistance or meet certain undisclosed eligibility criteria.
Contact information for each state’s assistive technology project is provided in the table below. Click on the program name to go to their websites.
Protection and Advocacy Programs (P&A)
State Protection and Advocacy Programs provide a wide range of services to disabled individuals in all 50 states. Each state has a lead agency which manages a variety of sub-programs. Most relevant of these sub-programs are the Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) Program and Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR) Program.
Each state’s program is different. And some may provide a degree of financial assistance to buy durable medical equipment or assistive technology. However, it is much more likely for individuals to use their free legal services to contest a claim for durable medical equipment or assistive technology that has been denied by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
The PAAT Program has been most successful overturning denied claims for durable medical equipment such as power wheelchairs and their associated ramps and lifts as well as for assistive technology such as adaptive computer equipment and sensory aids for persons with reduced sight or hearing. Click here for contact information
for your state’s Protection and Advocacy Program.
Non-Medicaid Programs for the Elderly
A few states also have programs for Medicaid-ineligible seniors that provide a variety of financial supports with the aim of keeping the individuals off of Medicaid. These programs vary quite a bit from state to state. But we’ve identified the following programs as having a broad enough charter or specific enough objective where their benefits can apply to individuals in need of home medical equipment and assistive technology. Click on the program names to learn more.
State Assistance Programs for Durable Medical Equipment