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Creating a state “autism support fund”

(Radio Iowa News) – If the governor approves, a new state “autism support fund” will be created.

Representative Dave Heaton is a Republican from Mount Pleasant who worked on the proposal in the legislature. “An autism program, dedicating $2 million that will be essential to help parents provide treatment for their children with autism,” Heaton says.

Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, also worked on the plan.

“We have, for the first time, a state program for autistic children where we’re going to be looking at applied behavior analysis as a way of providing significant services to the families and to the kids who have autism,” Hatch says.

Children under the age of nine who’ve been diagnosed with autism would be eligible, if their parent’s income is at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level. The money would be used to pay for treatment from licensed health care professionals and would cover treatment that promotes the autistic child’s “functioning as an individual.” The maximum amount the state would cover is $36,000 annually, for a maximum of 24 months in the program.

Autistic children who live in a low-income household and already qualify for Medicaid would not be eligible, as they’re getting some of these services now. Children with autism who have those services covered under private insurance would not be eligible either.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than eight-thousand Iowa children have been diagnosed with autism.

The proposed state “autism support fund” was included in a big budget bill that passed the House and Senate in the last 24 hours of the 2013 legislative session.