The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Education

October 24, 2011

Families with autistic children face long wait time for state services

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana families of children with autism are facing years-long wait for access to state services, a wide geographic disparity in care, and shrinking resources for those children when they become adults.

That grim assessment was offered Monday to the Indiana Commission on Autism, a legislative study group charged with making recommendations for how to improve care and services for more than 40,000 Hoosiers who have been diagnosed the disorder.

“Our need for services far outstrips the resources that we’ve devoted to this as a state,” said John Dickerson, executive director of The Arc of Indiana advocacy group.

Most pressing may the long wait for access to the state’s Medicaid-waiver programs, designed to keep people with disabilities from being institutionalized. There are now more than 19,000 people on the Medicaid-waivers list, waiting an average of 10 to 12 years to access federal Medicaid funds to help them offset the cost of in-home or community-based care.

More than 5,500 people on the list are individuals diagnosed with autism.

Commission member state Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, said those numbers show a system “so broken and so dysfunctional” that the state needs to look at dismantling the current system and creating a more effective way to make sure families with the most pressing needs are getting help.

Mary Rosswurm is a commission member from Hamilton County and mother of a 20-year-old son with autism. She told fellow commission members: “We’ve been on the wait list since 1998.”

State Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, said families on the wait list face additional frustrations: Because of the complexity of state and federal Medicaid rules, some families who’ve been approved by the state to get on the wait list find out years later that they don’t meet the federal guidelines. In essence, they’ve been waiting in vain, he said.

“It would be awful for a family to be on the list for six or seven years, believing they were moving forward, and then to find out that they’re not eligible,” Skinner said.

Officials with the state’s Family and Social Services Agency, which administers the Medicaid-waiver programs, said the length and duration of the waiting list has made it difficult for FSSA to monitor a person’s continuing eligibility.

The issue is critical not just to families in need but to the state. Indiana’s Medicaid costs, which includes the Medicaid waiver programs, have risen so much that they now take up a larger percentage of the state budget than higher education.

At Monday’s meeting, the commission stopped short of recommending a legislative fix, but it did push FSSA officials to take a look at the cost of overhauling the Medicaid-waiver system so that families with the most critical needs would be served first.

Commission members also told FSSA officials that they want to find a way to expand a program, paid for with Medicaid waivers, that would allow more adults with autism to live in small group settings near their home communities.

The commission also agreed to work with rural health care providers on the issue of access to diagnostic services for families with an autistic child. Commission chairman Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, said families who live in central Indiana have better access to medical specialists and researchers who specialize in autism and its related disorders.

Waltz said there was “a great disparity” between urban and rural areas in Indiana. “That doesn’t seem right to me,” said Waltz.

Maureen Hayden is Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI Indiana newspapers. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only
Local Education
  • FEA - HB0728 - Fresh Orientation - SH Elwood freshmen learn the ways of high school through mentoring program About half the 112 incoming freshmen at Elwood Jr./Sr. High School got a jump on their friends recently by attending a freshman orientation session. Joan Mercer, an English teacher who helped organize the the orientation, said the mentor program, which has been in place for several years, has been effective in new students make the high school transition.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0727 - Teacher Blessing - 13 Church's donation a blessing for teachers Thirty teachers attended the second annual Blessings for Teachers on Saturday at Anderson First Baptist Church.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • 24th Back-to-School parade and picnic on Aug. 2 The 24th annual Ollie H. Dixon Back-to-School parade and picnic will be held on Saturday, Aug. 2, in conjunction with the Anderson Parks Department.

    July 26, 2014

  • Elwood schools seek election change Elwood Community Schools is seeking to change the process for the way that members of the school board will be elected starting with the November election.

    July 25, 2014

  • South Madison superintendent contract OK'd South Madison Community Schools officials Thursday unanimously ratified a new three-year contract for Superintendent Joe Buck, and approved textbook fees for middle and high school students.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vaughan, Nancy Madison County grad rates and test scores improve, but still lag state High school graduation rates and standardized test scores in English, math and science all improved among public school students in Madison County from 2009 to 2013, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pay for South Madison soccer coaches under review An ad hoc parent group wants the South Madison Community Schools board to consider raising the stipend for Pendleton Heights High School soccer coaches.

    July 21, 2014

  • FEA - HB0721 - Rotary Exchange - JC 1 Foreign exchange program builds lasting friendships Paulina Berger returned to her hometown in Olpe, Germany on Friday, but she left something important behind: part of her heart. The 16-year-old spent a year living with three host families in Anderson as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • FEA HB0721 ISU Normal Hall Work underway to restore ISU's Normal Hall The sounds of heavy equipment, impact drills and even a large wrecking ball are evidence of a renovation underway at Normal Hall, Indiana State University's oldest academic building.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • HHS class of '66 seeks classmates The Highland High School Class of '66 will host its 48th class reunion on Aug. 23. Contact information is needed for several classmates.

    July 19, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide