The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of insurance and Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“We think there are 11,000 people with autism in Mississippi,” said Jim Moore, director of autism solutions at Canopy Children’s Solutions in Jackson and the chairman of the Mississippi Autism Board. “We have less than 60 providers.”Mississippi ranks dead last in community living standards for Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities
The research has shown that applied behavior analysis-based therapy can radically change the trajectory for a child with autism, Moore said. Especially if children with autism can receive intensive therapy early, they will need much less support in special education services in public schools and in social services as adults, saving the state money in the long run.
“The Centers for Disease Control and the American Medical Association not only consider it the best practice, but the gold standard,” Moore said.
The Medicaid reimbursement, which runs just over $30 an hour, doesn’t stretch to cover the costs, Moore said. States with similar demographics to Mississippi have Medicaid rates that are nearly double that level. As a result, there are currently only five autism centers accepting Mississippi Medicaid – the centers in Tupelo and West Point, Canopy in Jackson and two on the Gulf Coast.
“It’s extraordinarily hard not only to give that best treatment but keep the lights on,” Moore said.