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Florida Autism Mandate

Florida’s Autism Insurance Benefits Mandate Who Will Benefit, Who Will Not, and Why?: Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Florida Autism Legislation – Medicaid Waiver for Developmental Disabilities (Originally published July 7, 2008)

In this and other Chapters, in a Q&A format, we provide some basic information that we hope will help you answer questions you may have on various topics related to the Florida autism legislation.  See Introduction and Table of Contents.  In this Chapter, we summarize the proposed supplemental Medicaid waiver.

Please keep in mind that we are answering general questions that may or may not apply to your specific circumstances.  You should consult a lawyer or other specialist if you think you are entitled to benefits that you do not receive.  Behavioral Lifeboat can help you do that.

The supplemental Medicaid waiver is outside the scope of this article.  The discussion included in this Chapter has not been updated since 2008.

Q:  I determined that the autism insurance mandate and the developmental disabilities compact do not help me, my family, or my friends as I expected.  How will the proposed Medicaid waiver help us?

A:  The Florida autism legislation includes a provision entitled “Optional Medicaid Services – Home and Community-Based Services for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities.”  This part of the legislation directs the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to seek federal approval of a supplemental Medicaid waiver to provide specified treatment to children age five or younger who have specified diagnosed developmental disabilities (including autism spectrum disorders).

The proposed supplemental Medicaid waiver is subject to Federal approval.  The Florida legislature also directed the AHCA not to implement the proposed Medicaid waiver without additional approval by the Florida Senate and House.  The proposed Medicaid waiver also is unfunded.  The Florida legislature provided no specific appropriation to implement this part of the bill.

It is not clear if and when this Medicaid waiver would be implemented, even if approved by the Federal government.  To date, the Florida legislature has not even approved sufficient funding for the existing Medicaid waiver with the same title that is to be supplemented under the Florida autism legislation.  The Florida legislature cut state funding for the existing Medicaid waiver by $120 million during the 2008 regular session, shortly after another $60 million cut during the special session in July 2007.  These two budget cuts represent more than a 20% reduction.  Page 12 of the Florida Senate’s report on the Florida autism legislation disclosed that, as of October 2007, almost 22,000 children were on a waiting list for services, 85% of whom had been on the waiting list for over five years. Approximately 15% (over 3,000 children) on that list had autism as their primary diagnosis.

If you have questions, please comment in the Behavioral Lifeboat blog.

© 2008, 2011 Richard W. Probert

About Behavioral Lifeboat

Behavioral Lifeboat is a nonprofit organization. Our mission is to make evidenced-based behavioral therapy accessible to all by increasing awareness, helping to make comprehensive insurance benefits affordable and meaningful, helping schools provide more effective behavioral therapy programs, and providing grants to make such therapy affordable when other solutions are not available.


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