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Federal agreement supports autism services for young children

By Jennifer Rosinski

UMass Medical School Communications

November 03, 2014

An agreement between Massachusetts and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that will fund early intervention services for children on the autism spectrum is critical because it provides care at a crucial time in development, said Amy Weinstock, director of the Autism Insurance Resource Center at UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center.

“We are delighted to know that the federal government has approved this waiver, as it enables the commonwealth to help people with autism access critical treatments, which in turn allows them to lead healthy, happy and productive lives,” Weinstock said in a statement released by Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz on Friday, Oct. 31. “This enhances not only the well-being of individuals with autism, but the well-being of their families and by extension, their communities.”

The 1115 waiver is a sweeping five-year Medicaid agreement that brings $20 billion in federal money to Massachusetts in support of improved health care and delivery innovation, including autism services for young children. A portion of the funds will cover treatments for children on the autism spectrum from birth to age three who are enrolled in the state’s early intervention programs.

Weinstock is a long-standing advocate for expanding access to autism services, and was a staunch supporter of legislation passed in Massachusetts that requires public and private insurance to pay for behavioral analysis therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders.

The Autism Insurance Resource Center at the Shriver Center, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, assists parents and caregivers with children on the autism spectrum in identifying and accessing health insurance resources for services that treat autism.