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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Medicaid and Autism

Medicaid is a major concern for people on the spectrum. Michelle Diament writes at Disability Scoop:

A new website launching this week with backing from the federal government is offering a one-stop overview of the services available to people with developmental disabilities in each state.

The site, dubbed the Medicaid Reference Desk, offers a breakdown of the various Medicaid benefits — including medical and social services — offered to those with disabilities based on where they live.

Though the federal government mandates that Medicaid programs in each state meet certain requirements, states have significant leeway. As a result, the benefits available from one location to another and eligibility requirements for programs can vary wildly.

The reference desk is designed to help families wade through the bureaucracy, according to officials at The Arc, who created the new website with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Autism Society, which previously had a dustup over his Medicaid position, is proposing reforms in the program:

  • Moving to a voucher-based system. This will significantly improve the quality of services and care, eliminate fraud and abuse, and improve access to the ever-shrinking pool of healthcare providers willing to accept Medicaid reimbursement rates. A voucher-based system would allow people to receive care on the private market, decreasing the financial burden on federal and state governments.
  • Creating more incentives for states to adopt innovative care coordination techniques and outcomes-based care. The Autism Society believes a transition to national Medicaid pricing, similar to Medicare pricing, will streamline access to services across state lines.
  • Expanding the Medicaid Buy-In Program for Working People with Disabilities, increasing portability across state lines and loosening the rigidity of the program, which inhibits commonsense patient-centered care. It is also important to promote efforts to transition more individuals to community- and home-based care as opposed to the more expensive and less desirable institutional care.
  • Including development of workplace skills in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. Teaching workplace skills to children and young adults will help them prepare for independence in adulthood, reducing the long-term dependency on government entitlements