Isabella Volmert at AP:
Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration said the cost of Medicaid reimbursement for the behavioral therapy, commonly referred to as ABA, has ballooned in recent years because of the growing number of children seeking the services and the amount that providers have billed the state. The state plans a universal, hourly reimbursement rate for the therapy, but the planned amount is lower than what providers have previously received on average.
Advocates and centers worry this will mean accepting fewer patients or even closing, as has happened in other states such as Colorado this year.
“Companies just kept leaving and it just kind of turned into a crisis situation,” said J.J. Tomash, who leads an ABA provider in Colorado called BehaviorSpan. He blamed Medicaid reimbursement rates that have not kept up with the cost of living.
Medicaid began covering the services in 2016, and providers in Indiana set their own rates until now. But centers say the new rates are still not enough to keep them running and are far below the previous statewide average of $97 per hour.
Indiana Act for Families, a coalition opposing the new rates, said the proposal is 10% below providers’ operating costs. Although Indiana has said the new rates are aligned with pay in other states, the coalition argued the state used outdated data in their comparison.
...ABA is not without critics. Zoe Gross, advocacy director at the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, said ABA’s goal is to eliminate behaviors considered autistic and teaches children to conform with neurotypical behaviors.
“It teaches you that the way you naturally behave is not OK,” she said.
But families who have found it helpful find it hard to imagine a future without access.