Meet Korri Ward, a proud mom of two 30-year-old twins. One is Darrick, a master’s graduate from UNR and current federal employee who enjoys reading comic books, watching films, and discussing his favorite DC and Marvel characters.
The other twin is Doug. Doug owns a candy machine business and loves to spend time outside. Darrick & Doug were diagnosed with Autism at the age of five. 25 years down the road, these boys have seen remarkable progress. The only challenge that presents is the lack of support for Adults diagnosed with Autism.
The thing is, in Nevada, health insurance only provides coverage to those up until 18 years old or 22 if currently enrolled in school. This means that most autism support resources are unavailable for adults over the age of eighteen.
The good news is that Sen. Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) recognized this problem and sponsored SB191. SB191 is a law that was passed in 2023 which expands Medicaid coverage to ABA therapy services for people with Autism within the age bracket of 21 to 27 years old.
Senator Seevers Gansert’s legislation is estimated to expand coverage for ABA services to approximately 130 adults on Medicaid. He also believes It could create opportunities for those with Autism to gain access to better health outcomes and save them money on out-of-pocket expenses. But Board Certified Analyst Dr. Halligan has seen a different perspective.
Haalligan is happy that the new law will help many people with Autism get better access to care. However, she is concerned about the statewide shortage of ABA providers and the high cost of treatment. In other words, if there is a shortage of ABA providers, access to care will be hindered. Plus, the high cost of treatment also puts a considerable financial strain on some.
Reason for High Cost
She elaborates on the reason for the high cost of treatment: ABA therapy is a time-intensive individualized program & can take anywhere from 10-40 hours a week for young children. It depends on the severity.
“It’s the sheer number of hours. that makes it so outrageously expensive,” Halligan explains. “A standard hour for ABA therapy can be even 50$. So if you’re talking 10-20 hours a week, which usually it’s more than that … it’s going to add up very quickly.”
Moreover, ABA therapists require certification and licensing which of course is a tedious process. All this contributes to the expensive price. ABA therapy coverage
This is why Halligan partnered with the state’s Board of Applied Behavior Analysis to work with Seevers on a new legislation that will go into effect next year. It will expand access to ABA therapy coverage, particularly for those covered by Medicaid. It’s not only that, though. There’s funding and aid available to families with children under the age of 20 through ATAP Nevada. Halligan encourages families to visit their website for more information.
Nevada Autism Center
Halligan emphasizes that there’s still a long way to go – but despite the challenges, Nevada has come far in terms of making services accessible for all families. This is thanks to the advocacy and dedication of legislators, parents, and advocates such as the Nevada Autism Center which has helped spread awareness and provide the necessary resources including high-quality ABA therapy.
Visit this page to learn more about our therapy services.