ACA & Children on the Spectrum
For many families the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare did not just allow them to start making doctors appointments when their children were sick. It opened up doors to mental health services, physical therapy, surgeries, dental care, and many other services that most of the population doesn’t think about.
For the families who have a child with Autism, it meant that they were finally going to be able to get services that they didn’t have before, or might have even been limited to them. Before Obamacare, families who had a child with Autism would have to go a Regional Center to get the services that were needed for the children to have the best quality of life. Regional Centers are unique to California, it’s a nonprofit organization that receives most of its funding from the state through it’s Department of Developmental Services. Unfortunately the Regional Center system was not always able to provide the necessary amount of service needed for a child to progress. Before ACA there were limits for services for children on the Spectrum, and usually after 2 years children were no longer provided services. This was due to the lack of resources and that it was felt after two years children were not going to progress anymore. Unless you were a parent or guardian willing to fight for your child that was the end of the services you were going to get. Most families didn’t know that they could keep fighting for the services for their children.
With ObamaCare for the first time though insurance families were gaining access to these different services. Insurance companies typically approved children for roughly 50% more hours of services, including speech therapy, ABA therapy, and even occupational therapy. If the Affordable Care Act was to be revoked, we would see a decrease in services and naturally a slower or non-existent progression for children on the Spectrum who received coverage through ACA. I’ve seen first hand the differences that these services can make for children; there was one family I worked with whose only access to services was through Obamacare. Their child had some behavioral problems, and needed help with social skills. He used to throw tantrums for hours and the parent had no idea what to do, but with the services that we provided we were able to decrease his tantrums, and provided training for the parents as well. Through the ABA services he received he began to communicate his problems, rather than to break down and tantrum. He was taking turns and sharing with his sister. I have worked with kids who have received limited services through the Regional Center, sometimes only two hours a week, and progress was slow or stagnant. Unfortunately most of the time services were eventually terminated due to the length of time that a child had already been given services. The benefit of these services being provided through insurance is that the insurance companies will usually continue to fund them provided there is any type of progression. Which would mean these children will continue to receive resources that will help them talk, assist with life skills, social skills, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills. These children will be given access to the best quality life available to them by providing these therapies at a younger age, ensuring the growth of the children. Removing Obamacare without a better healthcare plan that includes forethought for children on the Spectrum will be a disservice to millions of Americans. ACA has helped so many people increase their quality of life. As a nation we cannot go backwards but instead forward in finding a better way to provide affordable healthcare.