Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill to Help Children with Autism Today
DENVER─ Today, the Senate passed Senate Bill 159 sponsored by Senator Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) and Representative James Kerr (R-Littleton). Senate Bill 159 will assess and clarify the services and support received by children as a part of the Colorado Children with Autism Medicaid Waiver Program. States apply to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to receive Medicaid waivers to create flexibility in an existing healthcare program, test new financing methods for programs, or to provide long-term or at home services rather than care in traditional facilities. This waiver program was created to help ensure that children with Autism receive the vital, unique, and often expensive services that they require.
Senator Hudak offered the following comment on Senate Bill 159 today:
“This waiver program provides essential support for Colorado families raising children with autism. It’s important that these children receive the services they need early in life. I’m pleased this bill passed with strong bipartisan support and that my fellow legislators recognize the importance of ensuring that this program be as effective as possible.”
The Colorado Children with Autism Medicaid Waiver Program was created in 2004, and the number of children diagnosed with Autism increased 23 percent since 2002. Currently, the Medicaid Waiver stipulates that it is awarded on a first come first serve manner with only 75 slots available. Senate Bill 159 will assess the children participating in the program as well as the services being provided and gather data on how to ensure that the children receiving the waiver are those who are the most severely disabled.
The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance will be charged with creating a method to evaluate both the waiver program and the children themselves, focusing on improvement in communication and adaptive behavior of children. When the Medicaid Waiver is eligible for federal reauthorization this data will be used to develop a method for ensuring that services are provided to those who will be the most impacted.
This bipartisan bill will now be heard in the House of Representatives.