Utah Medicaid program aims to help kids receive autism treatment

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3 2012 3:08 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Up to 250 Utah children will be eligible to receive treatment for their clinically diagnosed autism spectrum disorders through a new Utah Department of Health Medicaid program.

Services will be available to a limited number of children through a home and community-based waiver that was approved by the federal government earlier last month.

Applications for the program are available at www.health.utah.gov/autismwaiver.

The program will provide intensive individual support for children with autism spectrum disorders, as well as respite care and financial management services for their families

Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, sponsored legislation during the 2012 Legislature to create the program. The state anticipates spending $4.5 million over the two-year life of the pilot project, with the federal government contributing an additional $10.5 million.

"Autism is a significant challenge in our state, and it's not going away," Menlove said. "This program is a small but wonderful step in the right direction. We recognize there are still thousands of families who need these services for their children. Hopefully, what we learn from this program will help us develop a more permanent solution for them."

To enroll in the program, applications must be received by Wednesday, Oct. 31. Parents can submit the applications online or print it to be faxed or emailed. Parents are also encouraged to sign up on the website to receive email updates about the program, including information on future application periods.

Once the application period ends, health department staff will assign a randomly generated ranking to each eligible applicant. In order to ensure statewide access, program openings will be assigned geographically by local health district based on each district's population.

To be eligible for the program, a child must be a Utah resident born between April 1, 2007, and Oct. 31, 2010. The child must also not have assets of more than $2,000 in his or her name. Unlike traditional Medicaid, a parent's income and assets are not considered when determining the child's eligibility.

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