Autism task force seeks $2M from Legislature

Published 8:20 pm Friday, December 7, 2007

The Legislature will be asked for $2 million to improve treatment for Mississippi children diagnosed with autism.

State Rep. Noal Akins, R-Oxford, said Wednesday that the money would go toward Medicaid waivers for services not usually covered under the program.

With a tight budget year ahead, convincing lawmakers to get behind the proposal could be difficult, said Akins, whose grandson has autism.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A task force created by the Legislature this year reviewed medical, educational and early intervention programs across the state.

On Wednesday, its report contained recommendations ranging from implementation of a standard screening process to enacting legislation that prohibits insurance policies from excluding coverage for those diagnosed with autism.

“We want to make sure treatment doesn’t just go to the wealthy so that all of our children in our state can … become productive citizens,” said Dr. Susan Buttross, task force chairwoman.

Autism, the second most common developmental disorder in the country, affects one in every 150 U.S. children. In Mississippi, 680 residents ages 3 to 22 had the disorder in 2003, the latest year for which data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were available.