Deep Flaws and Outdated Data Used by Holcomb Administration
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Today, Indiana ACT for Families, and the Market Institute, a national conservative group, launched a new radio ad campaign urging the State Budget Committee to reject the Holcomb Administration’s misguided attempt to cut spending at the expense of Hoosier children with special needs.
The ad features Nicole Parker, a Darlington mom of a child with autism. In the ad, Parker strongly states that the cuts “are not what Hoosiers stand for”and pleads with members of the State Budget Committee to “say no to the Holcomb administration’s proposed cuts.”
Charlie Sauer, Founder and President of the Market Institute, expressed that these cuts are not fiscally responsible. “The Holcomb Administration is senselessly turning their back on Hoosier families instead of dealing with the real issues of Medicaid Expansion. Their faulty rate analysis is based on outdated data,” he said. “It’s not solid conservative policymaking to ignore the real solutions and focus on short-term savings knowing it will lead to higher long-term costs when children with autism don’t receive the care they need. The Holcomb administration is relying on faulty and misleading information to guide bad policy making that won’t address fundamental problems with Medicaid spending.”
The State Budget Committee will convene soon to discuss Medicaid expenditures and review the proposed Medicaid rate cuts for ABA therapy. The Committee should wait to hear public testimony at the Medicaid oversight committee hearing in November before moving forward with their formal review.
Coalition Finds Deep Flaws with Rate Analysis
FSSA Used Flawed Methodology and Ignored Their Own Cost Survey
- FSSA and OMPP’s provider cost survey found that the average cost to provide high-quality ABA therapy was $68.12 per hour for the 12 months ending June 2022. Adjusted for inflation, providers’ cost to administer ABA therapy is $76 per hour. The administration’s latest rate proposal of $68.24 blatantly ignores the results of their own cost survey data and is unsustainable for providers – ultimately leading to center closures.
FSSA Compared Indiana to States with Outdated Rates
- FSSA used a faulty comparison to ABA therapy reimbursement rates in other states to determine their updated rate proposal. Of the 18 states OMPP used for comparison with rates below $68.24, 1/3 of the states haven’t changed their Medicaid rates in the last 3 – 4 years and more than half haven’t been changed in over 18 months. As a result, these states could see an increase in the near future, which would increase the comparable states’ set average / median and put Indiana’s rate out of the range FSSA deemed to be “feasible” in its updated proposal.
Low Rate will Force Center Closures
- ABA therapy providers have faced high turnover among qualified therapists, which has lengthened waitlists for underserved children with autism. Even with wage increases of 20% or more, many ABA centers are still struggling with staff shortages, retention, and high burnout rates. Providers have been clear that significant rate cuts threaten their ability to provide services to families on Medicaid leaving many families fearful that they could lose access. These fears are not unfounded – providers have shut down in states like Colorado and Oregon due to Medicaid reimbursement rates that weren’t financially sustainable.
Public Schools Will be Overwhelmed By Influx of Children with Autism
- Cuts to ABA therapy would cause further strain on an already understaffed and under resourced school system. If ABA centers close due to unsustainable Medicaid rates, low-income families will be left with limited options for their child and will be forced to place them in a public school setting. Public schools do not have the funding or resources to support the influx of new students – midyear – who all need extremely specialized one-on-one services.
ABA Therapy Prepares Children for Independent Adulthood, Lowers State’s Long-Term Costs
- ABA therapy allows individuals with autism to live more independent lives and helps reduce reliance on more expensive state programs in adulthood. Providing this therapy, especially during the early years of life, which are critical for development, has been proven to result in better long-term outcomes and greater overall independence. Without ABA therapy, as a result of rate cuts, adults with autism will be heavily reliant on state programs for the entirety of their lives and have worse employment prospects. As of June 2023, there are nearly 135,000 unfilled jobs in Indiana. Meanwhile, 80% of people with autism are unemployed. ABA therapy can ultimately work to bridge the gap and equip children with autism with the skills necessary to become contributing members of society.