Jeff Sell, Autism Society Vice President, Public Policy and General Counsel, is featured on Disability.gov for National Autism Awareness Month
April 6, 2011
By Autism Society
As published in Disability Blog:
The prevalence of autism continues to rise, and a growing number of families are facing the reality that there will be dramatic cuts to programs and services – unless we do something –NOW.
The Autism Society estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 to $5 million, and the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism. (This figure includes research, insurance costs and non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, educational spending, housing, transportation and employment, in addition to related therapeutic services and caregiver costs.)
The direct and indirect costs of autism are staggering. Cost of treatment can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention – THIS IS THE KEY. If we do not act, in 10 years, the annual cost will be approximately $200 to $400 billion, in light of the increased prevalence.
With tax revenue still declining from the recession and budget reserves largely drained, the vast majority of states are proposing deep and sweeping budget cuts that will hurt families by reducing necessary and proven services. These proposed cuts come at a time when autism is a national health care crisis, which affects every community throughout America. The current service delivery system is typically ineffective, unresponsive, inappropriate and inefficient for providing seamless and quality lifespan services. Nowhere is this more evident than in the adult services sector.
No person with autism should experience a delay in accessing services that can greatly improve his or her life. There is a clear and present need to expand access to treatments, interventions and services. Individuals with autism have the same rights as others to exert control and choice over their lives, to live independently and to participate fully in, and contribute to, their communities and society through full integration and inclusion in the economic, political, social, cultural and educational fabric of society.
While reducing the deficit is important to everyone, we must continue to work diligently to ensure that this is not done at the expense of the most vulnerable and underserved population of our society.
Reductions and Cuts to Medicaid and Long-Term Community Services and Supports for Individuals with Autism
We need to preserve the most essential programs for people with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities. Medicaid is the lifeline for most people with autism and other significant disabilities. Medicaid is the largest funding source of long-term individual and family supports in the federal and state developmental disabilities systems, and, for many, it is the primary source of health care payments.
However, most states are cutting Medicaid spending, which means hundreds of thousands with intellectual and developmental disabilities will remain on waiting lists across the country. Equally disconcerting is the loss of many qualified staff when jobs are eliminated due to Medicaid cuts.
The following services are at risk: dental; physical, occupational, speech and audiology therapies; prosthetic devices; glasses; case management; clinic services; personal care, self-directed personal care; hospice; ICFS; PRTF (psychiatric) for children under 21; rehabilitative services; home and community-based services; and the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)...
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