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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Autism, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act

By Bill And Jennifer Whicker


March 13, 2017
Monday AM

We are long-time residents of Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan, AK and are the parents/guardians of a 23-year-old young man with moderate to severe autism.

Since our son's diagnosis in 1997 at the age of 3, we have been dedicated to providing a safe and secure quality of life for our son as well as planning for when we won't be the main caregiver in his life. Our family dynamics have revolved around the coordination of efforts with our son's two brothers, the community where we live, the public-school system and the Medicaid-funded local agency that provides services to those with disabilities; in our case, Community Connections. We are at the stage where our son has aged out of the school system and is receiving the bulk of support from our family and Community Connections.

Consequently, the discussion of cuts and caps to Medicaid funding affect our efforts to meet the goals we have set for our son. We have experienced recent challenges with violent and self-injurious behaviors directly related to autism that brought to light the lack of comprehensive mental and behavioral health services not only in our state, but nationwide. As we were trying to find a facility to help our family get through and find solutions for the violent and self-injurious behavioral problem, we found there was ONE facility in our country that would have accepted and provided the autism-related resources and support we needed to get through the crisis. The majority of facilities that would have worked for our son, cap their admissions to individuals under the age of 21. We reached out to the ONE facility, but never received any communication back. In short; we were on our own.

We understand that the restructure of the Affordable Care Act is going to take place. We adamantly request and encourage our policy maker's support for NOT including cuts and caps to Medicaid, which would devastate the lives of the most vulnerable in our country by halting the creation and advancement of services and facilities for the 50,000 people with autism who age out of our public schools every year.


Bill and Jennifer Whicker
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received March 09, 2017 - Published March 13, 2017

About: "Parents of a young man with autism and advocates for those with developmental disabilities."




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