A Call to Action: The Budget Crisis
March 31, 2011
By Autism Society
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.
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.
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/MRl; PRTF (psychiatric) for children under 21; rehabilitative services; home and community-based services; and the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
This means that families who are in desperate need will lose or experience severe cutbacks, from 16-32 percent, in the following programs:
- Health insurance for the child at no cost to the family;
- Intensive individual support services provided in the home, at school or in the community; therapeutic integration services; and regular day habilitation;
- Local school systems; specialized programs and early intervention programs that become Medicaid providers will be able to seek reimbursement for some of the specialized services for which they are currently unable to bill;
- Additional children will be Medicaid eligible and receive Medicaid-covered IFSP/IEP services;
- Respite care;
- Environmental accessibility adaptations;
- Family training;
- Supported employment;
- Residential habilitation;
- Targeted case management program through existing regulations; and
- Service coordination for children with disabilities.
Please Join the Autism Society to Advocate for All People Living with Autism
Call your legislator: To find your legislator, visit www.vote4autism.org. Urge members and staffers to do what it takes to maintain current service levels for individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Make it personal by telling them your story:
- Share how long you or your loved one was on a waiting list
- Share what life was like for you or your loved one during the waiting period (details are important here!)
- Share how the program you or your loved one utilizes currently receives funding
- Share how the program services and supports make you/your loved one's life more meaningful (how have you/your loved one improved with the services, such as he/she can communicate/walk/sit for the first time).
- Describe what you/your loved one would have to endure if services were cut after having waited so long; how devastating it would be to you/your loved one (i.e., I would lose my job, lose my home, lose my marriage). Describe why this service is important and valuable.
- Describe what would happen if this service option were reduced or eliminated.
- I understand the challenges you face in reducing the deficit and balancing the budget. I share these goals.
- However, cuts to health care funding do more harm than good.
In the coming days, we urge you to:
- Call your elected officials
- Stop by your elected officials' district offices or attend a town hall meeting
- Send personalized e-mails directly to your elected officials' offices
- Join with other community organizations that are adversely affected by the proposed budget cuts, such as The ARC, UCP, Easter Seals, TASH, etc.
- Recruit as many people as you can - friends, family members, teachers, health care providers, grandparents...we are all affected by this crisis!
- Support Vote4Autism on Facebook and connect with over 5,000 fans and get the latest legislative updates.
Together, we can improve lives. Please join us to spread this message during National Autism Awareness Month and beyond.
April 10, 2013
The Autism Society, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization, has chosen Pittsburgh as the host city of its 44th annual conference on autism spectrum disorders.
April 5, 2013
Individuals with autism can attend the Autism Society National Conference and Exposition (in Pittsburgh) for FREE this year! Learn more: www.autism-society.org/conference.
April 3, 2013
Monarch Teaching Technologies, the makers of VizZle®, web-based educational software for visual learners with autism, will give one-year of free VizZle to every new (or renewing) Champion Member during April.
April 2, 2013
Read the Autism Society’s digital magazine about autism spectrum disorders!
April 2, 2013
Today, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism.