State Definitions of Medical Necessity Under the Medicaid EPSDT Benefit

Authors NASHP

Date 2021

Keywords CYSHCN, Financing, Health Benefits, Medicaid/CHIP

State Medicaid programs are required to provide Medicaid enrollees under age 21 with comprehensive and preventive health care services through the Early Screening and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit. Federal law requires states to cover “medically necessary services” under the EPSDT benefit “whether or not such services are covered under the State plan.”  The federal statute does not define “medical necessity” but instead describes a broad standard for coverage. States can, therefore, establish their own parameters for medical necessity decisions so long as those parameters are not more restrictive than the federal statute. In March 2021, with support from the Catalyst Center, The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) conducted a 50-state scan of medical necessity definitions used by state Medicaid programs for their EPSDT benefit, updating a previous scan conducted in 2013. This resource presents definitions of medical necessity from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.