Investing in Autism Services Will Support Governor Holcomb’s Public Health Goals

Earlier this week, Governor Holcomb emphasized the need for a “significant increase in our state’s public health appropriation,” because improving public health will help lower costs for the state in the long run.  

Indiana is a leading state for access to diagnostic and therapeutic care for children with autism. Yet, too many families, especially the less fortunate, remain underserved. That is a public health problem that will lead to bigger state costs.

The Indiana state government is in the process of reevaluating the Medicaid reimbursement rates for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy services. Many ABA providers, therapists, advocate groups and families have expressed their concerns surrounding a possible rate cut for Medicaid reimbursement of ABA therapy.

Piece by Piece therapist Jenna Burkhard explained it well in a piece published in the Hamilton County Reporter: “A prime example of shortsighted cuts would be lowering coverage for preventative care. Cutting back on these types of care would ultimately lead to worse health outcomes and a much higher price tag down the road.”

The Governor’s broader public health priorities recognize the positive long-term impact that more funding would have on the lives of Hoosiers. If Indiana decides to lower reimbursement rates now, they’re just signing up for a much larger bill in the future.

Even parents, like Donna Cox, agree: “My daughter, who did not receive ABA therapy until her late teen years, with behaviors already ingrained and nearly impossible to extinguish, is now fully reliant on the state for her lifetime of care at a local care center. On the other hand, my son, who was violent and aggressive prior to receiving years of successful ABA therapy, is now a well-adjusted individual with no violence to speak of.”

Governor Holcomb is willing to do what it takes to improve the health of Hoosiers, as well as their access to care, emphasizing the need to “take new action to get new results, as far as public health is concerned.”

A cut to this therapy would cost the state millions down the line. Investing in ABA therapy now will strengthen public health, strengthen more families, give Hoosiers with autism better outcomes and save the state money. Let’s make the right choice.

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