SPRING HILL, Fla.-- Parents, children and community members gathered in Spring Hill on Wednesday for a rally to raise awareness of the importance of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, or ABA.
- Rally to raise awareness of importance of ABA therapy
- Some without services while applications are reviewed
- Application process through new company this year
This year the application process for families getting the therapy through Medicaid was taken over by a different company. According to Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, families who were previously approved for and receiving the therapy shouldn't be without services while the new company reviews applications from providers.
But some families in the Tampa Bay Area say they are feeling the effects of this change.
The decision by AHCA to change companies, from Beacon Health Options to eQHealth, followed an investigation that uncovered fraud and uncertified individuals providing therapy across the state.
Jennifer Quinn, a mother of eight children, says she has lost ABA services for her children. She has five adopted children who all have special needs and each qualify for ABA therapy.
Four of them were getting the therapy until it stopped recently.
"Their communication started to improve and improve. And as these kids improved their communication, their bad behaviors decreased," said Quinn.
She says for weeks her children have been without their ABA therapy while their therapist is audited. Four of her children have down syndrome and one has cerebral palsy. She says she's already noticed regression.
"This therapy is the therapy that keeps families intact, that keeps children and parents healthy and happy and growing and learning," said Quinn.
Quinn now fears without the therapy, her children will continue to regress. She says ABA is an effective therapy for children with autism or other special needs like down syndrome.
"That's my fear is that our family will go back to where we were a year ago and that was a dark place and a scary place for us as parents and for them," said Quinn. "I just don't want to go backwards. It's very scary. These kids deserve better than that. We can do better than that for these kids," said Quinn.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Quinn says eQHealth told her they don't have a timeline as to when her children's services will be reinstated. She was told her children’s files are in the first stage of review.
Mallory McManus, the agency's Communications Director released this statement:
"There is absolutely zero loss of services for children that need BA therapy. Saying otherwise is untrue and misleading. To crack down on widespread fraud and abuse and to protect taxpayers, AHCA recently put a moratorium on new providers in Miami- Dade and Broward counties. This does not apply to Tampa. Those seeking BA therapy, including those in Miami, still have access to services. In fact, between March 26, 2018 and June 23, 2018 more than 7,500 recipients were authorized to receive services in Florida."
AHCA encourages any parents who are having trouble getting their children ABA therapy to call 1-877-254-1055.