Meet Abie, Shaunna Thompson’s daughter. She is a happy toddler full of life and energy. However, in 2022, she was expelled from daycare because of her challenging behavior.
This left her mother with minimal options for childcare. Thompson then turned to an in-home provider for help. However, the in-home provider also found Abbie’s behavior to be too challenging for them to handle every day of the week.
Abbie’s mom was at her wits’ end. She decided to seek assistance for her daughter, who, on top of all that, wasn’t meeting her developmental milestones.
She took her to the doctor, and the diagnosis was autism spectrum disorder, given in October last year.
Abbie shows improvement
Thompson wasted no time in getting her daughter the help she needed. She enrolled her in ABA therapy – a specialized therapy that works on improving social & communicative skills through targeted behavioral training.
Abbie, who had been nonverbal most of her life, surprised everyone when she said “Mom” for the first time after just a few months of therapy. It brought tears to the family’s eyes.
The Thomsons, however, have one more thing still weighing on their minds – the upcoming changes to Medicaid in January. As any person would, they are concerned that these changes could limit their daughter’s access to the much-needed therapy.
The New Indiana Medicaid changes
To reduce costs and cut the size of the low-income health care program, Indiana and other states are implementing new rules that may restrict or even eliminate coverage for certain treatments.
The premise is that by creating a universal, hourly reimbursement rate for behavioral therapy, commonly called ABA, the state can better control and manage costs. However, this move has sparked worries among advocates since the new reimbursement rate is expected to be significantly lower than what providers have been receiving on average.
An example is Colorado, where companies had been forced to close their doors due to inadequate reimbursement rates and subsequent financial strain. As shared by J.J. Tomash, who heads a leading ABA provider known as BehaviorSpan in Colorado, the situation worsened, leading to a sense of crisis in Colorado.
Impact of Indiana Medicaid changes
Now, the plight of Indiana’s providers is no different, as the state plans to implement new reimbursement rates that are below the previous statewide average.
This is especially at the juncture where the rate of Autism diagnoses continues to rise at an alarming rate. ABA alone contributed $420 million in Medicaid spending in 2022, highlighting the critical need for proper reimbursement rates to sustain quality care for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Families who have tried and seen the positive effects of ABA therapy cannot fathom a future without access to such essential services.
In Westfield, a bustling suburb just outside of Indianapolis, 29-year-old Natasha Virgil shared how her family’s life has been transformed by ABA therapy since her son Elijah Hill began receiving treatment at only six years old. “Our world changed when he started ABA therapy. It opened up so many possibilities for us to do things together as a family outside of our home,” Virgil said, holding her four-month-old daughter while watching Elijah play with soap bubbles in front of the family’s twinkling Christmas tree.
Another mom of a son on the autism spectrum, Chanel McClure, said she has lost sleep over the looming transition. Her son, King, now almost three years old, could not communicate verbally and was on an 11-month waiting list for ABA therapy. However, since starting the treatment, King made significant progress, learning new ways to share and feeling more comfortable playing with other children. His therapists are also working on addressing common challenges, such as elopement or wandering, that often occur in children with autism.
Nevada ABA treatment
States have taken action to ensure access to quality treatment. In Nevada, for example, Nevada Autism Center has been providing quality ABA services for the last decade.
We value the necessity of early intervention and have a team of experienced professionals dedicated to helping autistic children reach their potential.