LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A state program that helps cover expensive costs of autism treatment has changed how families receive funding.

Some families said they’ll have a harder time affording services for their kids.

"All we want is for our kids to be able to have a future, and a chance because if (my son) didn't have this therapy he'd be in special education, he'd be uncontrollable, nonverbal,” mom Susan Anderson said.

Susan Anderson's 7-year-old son Harley has been enrolled in a type of autism therapy called Applied Behavior Analysis for more than four years.

“At 7 years old, my son's doing 15 hours a week, that 15 hours a week within a month comes to about $3500 worth of services," Anderson said.

Thanks to Nevada's Autism treatment assistance program (ATAP), Anderson can get up to $6,000 a year to help pay for autism services. In the past, she'd use most of that money at the beginning of the year to help pay for the first month of therapy and meet her insurance deductible.

"So instead of paying $3,500 a month, we're paying 20 percent and then by the end of the year we've met our max out of pocket and we're not paying anything, my insurance is paying 100 percent,” Anderson said.

But ATAP will only give families $500 a month maximum, instead of letting them access more of that $6,000 yearly total at the beginning of the year. Anderson says that means she can't afford as much therapy for her son.

“Until we met our deductible we'd go from 15 hours a week to four hours a week, which would take us from five days a week to two days a week,” she said.

ATAP says this has always been their policy, and their new program manager said she started enforcing it this July.

“This policy has been in place throughout our biennium, as program manager I'm working to enforce all of our policies through for our legislatively approved budget. We need to make sure the funding is going towards those ABA services and not front loading a deductible,” Samantha Jayme, Health Program Manager for ATAP, said.

Parents like Anderson say they aren't asking for more money, and all the funding they get from the state goes directly to their therapy providers, they just want ATAP to work with them in a way that will get their insurance to cover as much as possible.

"The goal here is to get our kids the most amount of services the most hours to make it the most beneficial, utilize our insurance to meet our deductible as long as it falls in the $6,000 budget and then have our insurance pay,” Anderson said.

ATAP said it is drafting a policy right now to help families who prove they have a financial hardship paying for their services, and said that will be handled on a case by case basis.

Copyright 2018 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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