David Gorn writes at California Healthline:
State officials last week released a draft of criteria for Medi-Cal beneficiaries to get autism therapy and children's advocates called the proposed requirements onerous and a barrier to accessing care.
The Department of Health Care Services released for public review on Nov. 12 a letter to managed care health plans that serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
The letter outlines the process for autism diagnosis and rules that need to be met in treating it. According to Julie Kornack, senior public policy analyst at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, based in Woodland Hills, those requirements are excessive and will impede access to care for many of the estimated 75,000 Medi-Cal kids in California with autism.
"These are the most onerous [conditions] I've seen in the country because of the multi-disciplinary requirements," Kornack said. "For them to create administrative and diagnostic barriers, that's just putting up barriers to people who need services."
Advocates criticized several specific parts of the guideline, including:
"That's ridiculous," Kornack said, adding that she doesn't know of any other mental health therapy that requires monthly evaluations. "The plans can ask for that information anytime they want," she said. "For them to require monthly reporting, it's just onerous and limiting and it's going to make providers not participate."
- A lengthy diagnostic assessment needs to be completed for every Medi-Cal beneficiary of autism therapy, even if a child has already been diagnosed;
- The state wants an assessment by a speech pathologist and occupational therapist before treatment can begin;
- Therapy cannot be conducted in a school setting;
- A cap of 40 hours has been proposed for autism services, and any hours spent in school count against those hours; and
- Participating providers need to file a status update every month to managed care plans.