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Medicaid Personal Care Services and Caregivers' Reports of Children's Health: The Dynamics of a Relationship



Objective. To investigate the relationship between Medicaid Personal Care Services (PCS) and caregivers' reports of activity (activities of daily living [ADL]) limitations for children with chronic health problems.

Data Sources/Study Setting. Primary data collected in 2008 and 2009. A state Medicaid program was the setting. The focus was children receiving Medicaid PCS.

Data Collection. Medicaid case managers assessed children to determine their need for PCS, using information provided by the child or informal caregivers. Two thousand seven hundred assessments were provided to researchers directly from case managers.

Principal Findings. Medical conditions and impairments explained 58 percent of the variance in the child's activity limitations. Activity limitations and problem behaviors explained 28 percent of the variance in PCS hours authorized. Which case manager completed the assessment also played a substantial role in determining hours of care.

Conclusions. Caregivers' reports of the severity of a child's activity limitations effectively summarize the effects of conditions and impairments on the child's ADL performance and have a significant impact on the level of services provided. Assessors often respond differently to children's characteristics and circumstances as they move from assessment to decisions concerning care provision. Our results imply that the provision of appropriate services may be enhanced when both case managers and caregivers play an active role in decisions concerning care provision.

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