Montana Disability and Health Program


The Montana Disability and Health Program is organized to respond to the health priorities of Montanans with disabilities across the life course, with a goal to promote and maximize health, prevent chronic disease, improve emergency preparedness, and increase quality of life. The program is funded through a cooperative agreement between the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Disability and Health Branch, Division of Human Development and Disability, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Living Well with a Disability Improves Health and Saves Money

Public Health Issue
People with disabilities compose about 20% of the U.S. population but account for nearly half of all medical expenditures. A combination of medical, rehabilitation, and community advancements have increased the life expectancy of people with disabilities. A challenge for public health is to ensure these added years are quality life years. The Living Well with a Disability (LWD) evidence-based health promotion program can help meet this challenge by reducing the effects of health problems and associated medical expenses for people with physical disabilities or mobility impairments.
Program Overview
A national study funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Disability and Health Program indicated that a state would save approximately $81,000 to $240,000 above the cost of the LWD program when implemented with 240 participants each year. The Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural), in partnership with MTDH, provides the organizational and facilitator training and technical assistance to Centers for Independent Living and other community agencies that implement LWD workshops. LWD teaches skills to manage health, solve problems, communicate with service providers, avoid frustration and depression, increase physical activity and nutrition, and maintain healthy lifestyle practices.
Making a Difference
Since February 1995, RTC:Rural staff trained 1017 LWD facilitators in 46 states, who served more than 8,100 adults with disabilities. The vast majority of trained facilitators were located in 14 of the 16 states with CDC Disability and Health programs ( cbddd/disabilityandhealth/index.html).
Since 2002, 609 LWD facilitators in current and past CDC Disability and Health funded states reached over 4,800 workshop participants, whose symptom-free days are estimated at having increased by 57,977 days. The estimated net benefit to healthcare payers is between $4.6 and $7.8 million.
Shaping Tomorrow
Contact your state’s long-term care programs to discuss LWD as a possible Medicaid reimbursable service through the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver programs. For example, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare approved the following service in two HCBS Waivers in Montana: “Classes on weight loss, smoking cessation, and healthy lifestyles such as ‘Living Well with a Disability’ offered by independent living centers.”
Contact Information
Meg Ann Traci, Ph.D
P: 406-243-0546 E:
M: 52 Corbin Hall, University of Montana, Missoula MT 59812