The health care reform law provides categories of care that must be provided for customers of the health-insurance exchanges that are launching in 2014. An article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Defining Essential Care,” points out that “The next big issue for the federal health law as it moves toward implementation is how regulators will define so-called essential benefits—the basic medical services that health plans must cover under the law.” So the details are left up to regulators who are now starting to develop the rules on what is an “essential” health care service and what is not.
Habilitative services, used by such children with autism and other developmental disabilities, have become a particularly contentious point in the debate. The Arc’s Marty Ford provides an example of the difference between rehabilitative and habilitative services. (Read Marty’s prior testimony on the importance of defining habilitation as an essential service.)