By Carli Friedman, CQL Director of Research
Rosa’s Law, which changed references of ‘mental retardation’ to ‘intellectual disability’ within federal legislation, marked recognition by the federal government that ‘mental retardation’ (the R-word) is outdated and pejorative. However, Rosa’s Law did not apply to many notable federal programs related to disability, such as Medicaid. This manuscript explored if and how the R-word was used within Medicaid Home and Community Based Services 1915(c) waivers, as they are the most prevalent provider of long-term services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Although an overwhelming majority of waivers used the R-word, we found the R-word was used less for later benchmark dates. Waivers provide some of the most advanced community services; the language used in waivers should reflect this.