• Jacksonville parents, providers rally against Medicaid cuts that would impact children with Autism

    By: Alicia Tarancon , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Parents in Jacksonville who have children with autism and rely on Medicaid met downtown Friday outside the Department of Health, demanding action.

    Last month, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) threatened to cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for therapists who work with children with autism.


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    Parents like Priscilla and Asa Maass know what it’s like raising a child with autism.

    They have a 13-year-old daughter Abigail who has severe autism and she’s been receiving applied behavior analysis therapy for the last five years.

    "It’s amazing, with Abigail she’s now able to go grocery shopping with us and she’s able to bath herself and do all of these life skills that many of us take for granted,” said Priscilla Maass.

    Together they’re joining other families to rally against the proposed Medicaid reimbursement cuts for providers who treat children with autism.

    Last month the AHCA announced it was considering the changes which would impact behavior analysis and other positions.

    “With the changes that Medicaid wants to put in place for ABA therapy, the services are going to be reduced drastically,” said Asa Maass

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    Candy Hurst, a behavior analyst, said it hurts providers, too.

    “It’s hard for us when we have to put a hold on services and stop our children from coming in and seeing us because we know how that influences the overall progress of our clients,” said Hurst.

    Parents and providers are hoping their voices will be heard by lawmakers and they’ll work to take down some of the barriers AHCA would create for families on Medicaid who can’t afford these services for their children.

    “We have gotten to where we are now because of the last five years of ABA therapy and we want that for other people, they should have access to that,” said Maass

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