CMS Approves Pennsylvania Medicaid Waiver Program

Armen Hareyan's picture

PennsylvaniaGov. Ed Rendell (D) on Thursday announced that CMS earlierthis month granted approval of a waiver program that allows the state toallocate part of its federal Medicaid funds toward services for adult residentswith autism, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. According to Rendell, Pennsylvaniais the first state to receive permission to use federal Medicaid funds forservices aimed at autistic adults. The approval will authorize Pennsylvania to spend$20 million annually for home and community services to benefit autisticadults, the AP/Inquirer reports.

Under the waiver program, up to 200 adults with autism -- who will qualify forthe program based on their annual incomes and extent of their disability --will have access to the public services. According to Anne Bale -- aspokesperson for the state Department ofPublic Welfare,which manages programs for the disabled -- the federal funds will finance avariety of services, such as respite aid for relatives who care for autisticadults and crisis intervention.


Under a federal special education law, children up to age 21 with autism andother disabilities can access such services at public schools. However, Pennsylvania did nothave a similar law for adults with the disorder.

Rendell in a statement said, "Prior to the establishment of this waiverprogram, there was nothing designed for people with autism once they reachedthe age of 21." Disability advocates said that the program will allow moreautistic adults to avoid institutionalization. "The whole idea is to givethem a jump-start," Daniel Torisky, president of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and secretary of the society'sstate chapter, said, adding, "It puts them in line for significant andspeedy improvement and accommodation to the complexities of our society"(Raffaele, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/23).

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