“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,” Steinberg said, 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.”
Today, the state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) will issue an All-Plan Letter to California’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 5 million children, approximately half of the children in California. Until now, autism treatment has unavailable to low-income Californians with ASD who are Medi-Cal beneficiaries. These vulnerable children have been
without any care a full two years after the state’s two health regulators declared autism a public health emergency and that any delay in treatment would likely cause irreparable harm.
While 75,000 children in Medi-Cal likely have ASD (CDC estimates 1 in 68) not all of them will utilize the benefit. Some children may not even be diagnosed yet, as research has shown children of color, overrepresented in the Medi-Cal population, are diagnosed up to 2 years later than Caucasian children.
Hopefully, the possibility of access to treatment will result in more accurate diagnosis and referral. What is known is that today less than 10% of the affected children receive behavioral health treatment, which is available through the Regional Center system only for the most severely impacted children. This new benefit makes the treatment available to the other 90% of California’s children covered by Medi-Cal who are struggling with ASD.
Click here for a Q & A Sheet on this ebenefit Medi-Cal Autism BHT Benefit How-To Guide Draft 4 2 pag
The Autism Society Inland Empire is excited to partner with Air Hollywood and WAPADH in offering a special event to assist families with Autism in gaining the confidence, comfort, and enjoyment of air travel. For just $10 per person, Open Sky for Autism allows for vital acclimation, repetition, and supervision during a commercial airport and passenger flight simulation. Lunch is included! The program features: Airport Arrival, Ticketing, Check-in, and Baggage Check, TSA Security Screening, Departure Lounge and Boarding, In-Flight Simulation, Deboarding, and Lunch and Refreshments!
Volunteers needed! We are looking for volunteers, for one or both of the dates, with experience communicating with individuals along the ASD spectrum to supervise and monitor stations along our aviation experience, be ‘passengers’ imbedded within the experience, and be TSA ‘agents’ (uniforms provided) screening families before they ‘board.’ Lunch and T-shirts will be provided to all participating volunteers. Click here for volunteer info.
Thank you to Senator Darrell Steinberg for Chairing the State Senate Hearing on Autism and Underemployment. The hearing held on Aug 5th, was an important first step in publicly talking about the barriers and issues that are affecting our adults. ASIE Board members Theresa McFarland, Lillian Vasquez, Beth Burt and Stephani Congdon attended the hearing. Beth gave public comments to the Committee and asked them to consider establishing a Task Force and not to forgot the entire spectrum of needs.
- Currently there are 70,000 individuals with ASD in the regional center system; approximately 6,000 of them are adults.
- There is an untold number of adults with ASD that are not in the regional center system.
- California ranks 34th in disability employment.
- Regional Center clients have an unemployment rate of over 84%!
- For those who do earn income, the average income is $4,824 a year.
Sen Steinberg will be terming out of office in December of 2014. The Autism Senate Select Committee is working on putting together a Task Force to address the employment issue and to find a senator that will champion the issues of the autism community. Stay tuned!