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Monday, December 19, 2016

It's Tough to be an Autism Parent in Texas

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss special education and  state Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Some states do a reasonably good job, but Texas is not one of them.

At Raw Story, David Edwards reports that Texas will cut Medicaid for disabled kids.
KXAS reported on Sunday that the $350 million in cuts to Medicaid program passed by the GOP-controlled legislature had taken effect.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokesperson Carrie Williams told the station that the cuts had been implemented to “achieve savings.”
But a letter from the U.S. Department of Education earlier this month warned that 12 of the 47 providers participating in the Early Childhood Intervention program could discontinue offering services.
“If these groups do pull out of the program, it will be devastating for kids with autism, speech delays, Down syndrome, and other disabilities and delays,” Texans Care for Children CEO Stephanie Rubin told the Herald Democrat in an email. “We know that these groups want to keep serving children and we know staff at [the Texas Health and Human Services Commission] is working hard on this, but the Legislature needs to make sure the funding is in place.”
Alex Zielinski reports at The San Antonio Current:
Texas Medicaid is refusing to fully fund the most commonly used treatment for children with autism, according to a lawsuit filed in a San Antonio federal district court Tuesday.

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and Disability Rights Texas filed the suit on behalf of three Texas boys — all with autism spectrum disorder and all denied Medicaid coverage for needed Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) treatment. This treatment help kids with autism communicate, develop relationships, and reduce behavioral problems before they reach adulthood.

While Texas Medicaid does cover 30 hours of the treatment per month, for up to six months, autism specialists say patients need at least 20 hours of treatment a week for several years for it to really work.
Julie Chang report at The Austin American-Statesman:
Frustrated parents criticized the Texas Education Agency and several school districts Thursday night, accusing them of intimidation, lying and racking up high attorney fees to get out of providing special education services to their children.
More than 100 people signed up to address state and federal officials during an hours-long and often heated listening session coordinated by the U.S. Education Department in East Austin. It was the fifth and final forum in a series of sessions held across the state this week.
Federal officials launched the effort after the Houston Chronicle reported in September that the TEA had mandated that districts keep special education enrollment at or below 8.5 percent, which led school districts to deny children special education services. The newspaper found that the policy saved the state billions of dollars.
TEA officials have denied requiring districts to limit special education enrollment, but said that if more than 15.1 percent of school district’s student population are special education students, the state requires an improvement plan.
The agency will no longer use the performance indicators to intervene in school districts