INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is one step closer to a decrease in funds for autism therapy after the State Budget Committee did not make a motion to strike a review of the FSSA’s proposed reimbursement for ABA from last Friday’s agenda.
Although some objections were raised, the rate as is still stands meaning the FSSA’s $68 per hour rate will go into effect January 1, 2024. This is down from the current average rate of $91 per hour.
”It is very disappointing that they are decreasing the rate,” Shaunna Thompson, a nurse in Mishawaka, said.
Thompson’s 3-year-old daughter started ABA back in March. She said she’s concerned the new, lower reimbursement rate could mean cuts to her daughter’s services.
”Within the past month, my daughter has said ‘mom’ for the first time,” Thompson said. ”The thought of losing that therapy and that center, it just brings tears to my eyes.”
”It will impact a lot,” Natasha Virgal, a former RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) said.
Virgal said she moved from California to Indiana to get her son the therapy he needed.
“I was just, didn’t have the support that I had in Indiana,” Virgal said.
The former therapist said she now fears the new rate will increase turnover for ABA providers statewide.
”The turnaround, I mean, we worked to the point where we had to cancel kids because we just didn’t have enough staffing,” Virgal said. “It’s just going to get worse.”
State Rep. Gregory W. Porter said he made a motion to increase the rate during last week’s State Budget Committee meeting, which was shot down. Although a motion was entertained by the committee chairman to remove the review item from the agenda completely, none of the voting members called for a motion to do so. Porter said he’s familiar with Republican leadership striking down similar motions.
”I had done it before and had been perceived an obstructionist,” Rep. Porter said.
Porter also said despite conversations he had with Republican leadership prior to the committee meeting, leadership had already made up their minds/
”The FSSA had already dug their heels in…it was not going to move forward because the leadership did not do it,” Rep. Porter said.
State Rep. Craig Haggard (who is not on the State Budget Committee) said he anticipates the rate will be revisited before it’s set for its next official review, but that could be as long as four years from now.
”We’re going to be keeping just a close, close, close eye on it,” Rep. Haggard said. ”The number’s not where we want it. We think about maybe ten dollars higher could be that sweet spot.”
Rep. Porter said the FSSA is considering an optional two percent increase to the rate to account for inflation. FOX 59 reached out to the FSSA and the State Budget Committee Chairman for comment, and have yet to hear back.