[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
California To Start Medicaid Coverage Monday for ABA For Autism
September 11, 2014
SACRAMENTO, CA (September 11, 2014) – As many as 75,000 primarily low-income California children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will become eligible for a life-altering form of treatment through Medi-Cal starting Monday when California becomes the first state to implement a federal directive to step up Medicaid coverage for children with autism.
Up to 12,000 of these children are expected to utilize the new benefits, according to Autism Speaks and a coalition of California and national advocacy groups. They have joined with California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg in praising the state’s move.
“Through this decision we have achieved and cemented the original vision of SB-946, which is full coverage under both private and public health plans for behavioral health treatment,” said Steinberg [left], referring to the autism insurance reform law he authored in 2011. “This important milestone will ensure that all children in California, regardless of their insurance or economic status, will have access to life-changing treatments for autism spectrum disorders.”
On Monday, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) will issue an All-Plan Letter to the state’s Medi-Cal managed care plans directing them to start covering behavioral health treatment, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), for individuals with autism up to age 21. Medi-Cal insures more than five million children, approximately half of the children in California. Until now, autism treatment has not been available to low-income Californians with autism who are Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
While 75,000 children could be eligible, experience in California and other states has shown about 1 in 6 will ultimately utilize behavioral health treatment based on medical necessity and other factors.
Approximately 4,000 to 6,000 of the affected children currently receive no treatment, including children who lost these critical services last year in the Healthy Families to Medi-Cal transition. Another 6,000 to 7,000 of the affected children now receive behavioral health treatment through the Regional Centers; that will continue until a transition plan is developed for transfer into Medi-Cal plans.
“This is a landmark moment for California’s autism community and positions the state as a national leader in delivering meaningful coverage to treat autism, the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States,” said Dan Unumb, executive director of the Autism Speaks Legal Resource Center. “Behavioral health treatment can dramatically improve the lives of many people with autism, enabling them to mainstream into our schools and society while reducing taxpayer costs for special education and longterm support services. This is a huge step in our ongoing efforts to ensure that all families across the country have access to essential healthcare.”
“After years of having to inform children and families on Medi-Cal who desperately needed treatment for autism that the state had no help for them, it’s incredible to be able to tell families we can help connect them to this life-altering treatment, right away,” said Kristin Jacobson, president of Autism Deserves Equal Coverage. “We commend the California Department of Health Care Services for moving quickly to ensure that all California children get the behavioral health therapy they are entitled to, thereby making a difference in the lives of thousands of vulnerable California families.”
Maria Cruz of Los Angeles has a 9-year-old daughter, Shirley, who was diagnosed with autism when she was 7. Because Medi-Cal has yet to provide behavioral health treatment for autism, Shirley not only was diagnosed very late, but also has never had any treatment for her autism. She was turned down for treatment by the Regional Center and school district and has had nowhere else to turn.
“I am delighted that my daughter will be able to get the treatment she so desperately needs,” Cruz said. “Everywhere I have gone so far the door has been shut in my face. Now our lives can get better.”
In April, Maria traveled 14 hours round trip by bus from Los Angeles to Sacramento for the autism awareness rally to ask legislators to help her daughter. “I asked them please to help my daughter – and now they are. I am so happy!”
Jazzmon Wilson from the Sacramento area has two children on the autism spectrum. Her youngest son Joshua is now getting ABA from the ALTA Regional Center. When he was 2 years old, her oldest son Timothy received the treatment from the Regional Center of the East Bay where he made great gains. But when Timothy turned 3, he was determined ineligible for further Regional Center services and his ABA was terminated.
Jazzmon’s insurance, Medi-Cal, did not cover ABA, so for the next three years, Timothy received no treatment. His behavior deteriorated and many of the gains he had made were lost. He has recently secured some ABA from his school district and started making progress again, but that service is ending in mid-October.
“I have seen the benefits of ABA, both for Timothy and Joshua,” said Wilson. “I can’t let what happened to Timothy happen to Joshua. I lost services once for Timothy and it took me almost three years to get them back. He can’t lose them again.
“Our family wouldn’t survive,” Wilson said. “I am so relieved that I will be able to get treatment from Medi-Cal for Timothy and Joshua. I can sleep again at night.”
The Autism Community Is Not The Autistic Community
More With Autism Votes
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.