Called the Children’s Autism Waiver Services, the program works to fund interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That waiver program was affected by recent legislative cuts and the elimination of the Autism Diagnosis Observation Schedule Assessment Site in Miles City, which was hosted by the Developmental Education Assistance Program.
According to Denise Herman of Hi-Line Home Programs, the waiver provides Medicaid funding to help pay for a three-year intensive early intervention program for preschool-aged children with ASD. The catch is that these children must go through an intensive evaluation and diagnosis assessment and be certified by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) before they can receive the waiver from Medicaid. With the closure of the assessment site, now each specialist must be visited individually for completion of the assessment, adding time and money to the process.
According to Herman, the diagnosis system has fallen apart in Montana, due to budget cuts and a sense of over-regulation on the part of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). In the past, if a child was referred to Hi-Line Home for a developmental disability they were sent to an Evaluation and Diagnosis Clinic in Miles City.