An earlier post noted that the West Virginia mandate might enable the state to keep behavior analysts who received training in its institutions. The same is true of Michigan. Crain's Detroit Business reports:
With 15,400 school-age children and an additional 4,500 ages 2-5 diagnosed with autism, Michigan needs up to 600 more licensed psychologists who also are board-certified behavior analysts and as many as 7,000 licensed therapists to provide autism treatment, said Colleen Allen, executive director of the Autism Alliance of Michigan in Detroit.
"There will be some frustration in the beginning from parents because there are not enough qualified therapists in Michigan," said Dave Meador, one of the leading supporters of autism insurance reform and a member of the Autism Alliance.
"Our intention is to help organizations run job fairs to attract (licensed psychologists) back to Michigan," said Meador, who is also CFO of DTE Energy Co. in Detroit. "We have good behavioral colleges, but many graduates leave the state because there is no insurance for autism. This (law) will be a job creation mechanism." [emphasis added]
In Michigan, there are only 118 board-certified behavior analysts, and fewer who specialize in autism, compared with 2,000 in Florida. The Sunshine State is one of 30 that, like Michigan, now mandates autism insurance coverage, said James Todd, a psychology professor at Eastern Michigan University in YpsilantiMLive reports:
When passing the bill, State Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, urged members to note the loss of talent Michigan was facing without the bills.
“I think most people know at least one person who has a family member with a child diagnosed with autism,” she saidwhen the legislation was approved on March 29. “We’ve heard from the schools. They graduate these wonderful, educated, ready-to-go-to-work kids and they have to move out of state because the jobs aren’t here because it’s not covered by insurance.”
Department of Psychology Professor and Chair Wayne Fuqua said he looks forward to seeing less than 90 percent of his behavior analysis graduate students leave the state.
He says he hopes the new legislation translates into WMU ramping up training capabilities, especially once the Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research center is completed in July. Residential Opportunities, Inc., and Western Michigan University began a $1.7-million renovation project on Portage Road for a new center for autism treatment to serve the 500 children with autism and their families in Kalamazoo County in January.