INDIANAPOLIS — Medicaid cuts are making certain therapies harder to receive, especially therapies aimed at changing social behavior.
Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy helps 6,200 children in the state of Indiana according to the state’s website. While traditional ABA therapies are also getting less funding, those for kids with self injury behavior will no longer be offered at Applied Behavior Center for Autism. According to the facility, they are the only ABA facility in the state to offer the intensive therapy.
Kristin Crabb knows first hand how life changing that therapy can be. Her 12-year-old son, Eli Crabb, was diagnosed with Autism at a young age. He began exhibiting signs of self injury behavior (SIB) at 10 years old. It caused the ABA facility the family was using to no longer be able to treat Eli.
"Whenever he was about 10 things got very difficult,” Kristin Crabb said. “The ABA center that we were utilizing at the time got to a point where his SIB's Self Injury Behaviors were too extensive to feel like they could handle. "
Because Eli would injure himself and others, his therapist suggested that he go to a residential facility, something his mom wasn't comfortable with.
"The idea of him not living with me at 10 years old, no I haven't considered it," Crabb said. “Well they would no longer see him."
That's when she found the behavioral unit at the Applied Behavior Center for Autism. The behavioral unit specializes in therapy to help those that have aggressive tendencies. During that therapy the patient has multiple councilors rather than just one. That way the patient and providers aren’t injured while they are trying to correct the behavior.
"If it was possible to do it with just one person we could do typical ABA like we do with many other children,” Vince LaMarca the Senior Clinical Research Director at the Applied Behavior Center for Autism said. “It's just not possible until you get these really harmful behaviors under control."
According to the facility, around 40 percent of kids with autism have self-injury behaviors. They say they are the only facility in the state to offer a way to correct it but now, the facility is going to have to stop.
Medicaid has reduced the amount of money they are reimbursing facilities for this type of therapy. Basically, it takes around three different professionals to perform the therapy properly. Medicaid is only reimbursing the facility for the cost of one and a half therapists. ABC says the cuts make it almost impossible for them to continue offering services through their behavioral unit.
"It is severely impacting our ability to this coming year 2024, to do more for the families then those we already serve,” LaMarca said. "We really have to look closely at how is it possible to get anyone else in when in fact anyone we take in would be a loss to the company."
For moms like Kristin Crabb, her son's time at the behavioral unit has made his sessions more accessible, but she worries, that others across the state wont have the same opportunity she did.
" My story got to be the happy because the BU existed. I am very concerned for the families that are coming up behind us," Crabb said.
As of January first, the Applied Behavior Center for Autism says their Behavioral Unit will have to close. That means they will only be able to offer traditional ABA therapy. They currently serve 200 kids with about 400 looking to join their clinics. They hope that Medicaid will reconsider their reimbursement rates.