Florida Association for Behavior Analysis calls on lawmakers to reverse these cuts
Recent funding cuts announced by the state will have a devastating effect on the availability of quality behavior analysis services in Florida, dramatically impacting the thousands of families across the state who desperately need these important services. In response, the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis today called on legislators to address the changes and reverse this short-sighted proposal before it’s too late.
The cuts, proposed by the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), would slash Medicaid reimbursement rates for behavior analysis professionals, who provide a medically necessary service that primarily helps children and adults who have autism, Down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities or behavioral challenges. These individuals often require regular sessions with qualified providers, yet AHCA’s proposal would force many providers to close their doors – a move that would create a large opening for less qualified, even unscrupulous providers.
“These unnecessary and unexpected rate cuts would indeed cut deep, and unlike other cuts they won’t heal,” said Andrew Houvouras, BCBA President of the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (FABA). “Make no mistake: If AHCA finalizes these changes, countless behavior analysis providers across the state will be forced to close down, leaving the clients they serve with few or no options for the services they need.”
The cuts proposed by AHCA would reduce reimbursement rates paid for behavior analysis services by as much as 54%, with some of the most expert services suffering 22% cuts. AHCA contends that the current rates are excessive, but most behavior analysts operate on extremely thin margins already. If the cuts are implemented, many of these professionals will be forced to stop seeing clients – who would be left with few high-quality options for care.
Other changes proposed by AHCA do not address one of the primary issues FABA has recommended for years: A requirement that the lead analyst for every client be a board certified behavior analyst. This smart requirement will have the end result of reducing fraud, cutting wasteful spending, and increasing access to quality care, without cutting the already modest reimbursement rates that providers now receive.
“We applaud the state’s efforts to root out fraud in health-related professions, but these proposed rate cuts will thin out many experienced and quality providers, especially those conducting most of the direct services,” said Baker Wright, Ph.D., BCBA-D, who is chief operating officer and co-owner of Behavior Management Consultants in Tallahassee. “In a misguided attempt to reduce fraud, the state is jeopardizing the care that so many vulnerable children across the state currently receive in order to live a healthier and more independent life. Cutting the rates will likely force many excellent providers to stop accepting Medicaid clients, which could clear the path for less qualified and capable providers who could put these same children at risk. The state then pays less money, but the family and the individual pay the price.”
The state agency plans a series of workshops across the state to finalize its proposals, and FABA intends to host rallies before these events in an effort to underscore the need to maintain existing funding levels. However, FABA recognizes that a more effective approach – for both behavior analysts and those they serve – would be for the Legislature to intercede and stop AHCA from promulgating its proposed changes.
Learn more about this issue at fabaworld.org/legislative-affairs.