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S. Carolina: State not paying autism therapists enough; Medicaid isn't serving kids

May 22, 2018, Columbia (SC) State: SC children can't get autism therapy they need,and it's the state's fault, suit says http://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article211649884.html S.C. children in need of intensive autism treatment cannot find therapists, and the state's Medicaid agency is to blame, according to a federal lawsuit that alleges the state is driving therapists away by failing to pay them enough. The lawsuit was filed by Ashley Manley, a Lexington mother whose 6-year-old son has been waiting for more than two years to get more than 40 hours a week of in-home, intensive therapy. A doctor prescribed the therapy for the child after he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. South Carolina's reimbursement rates for autism therapists are so low that they cannot afford to treat patients covered by Medicaid, the joint federal-state insurance program for the poor and disabled, according to the lawsuit. The suit, filed last week, names the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services and its director, Josh Baker, as defendants. As a result of those low rates, some S.C. therapists refuse to accept Medicaid patients for the autism treatment, leading to a scarcity of therapists and long waits for their services, the suit alleges. … Lawmakers are expected to increase those rates again in the state budget that takes effect July 1, but how much has not been decided…. Manley's lawsuit has the potential to affect hundreds of S.C. children. According to Health and Human Services, there were 1,425 children on Medicaid who had been approved for autism services last June. Of those, 840 were not receiving therapy. …