Secrets of autism service

State accused of covering up changes to services for autistic children

State health officials have been accused of knowing that coverage for autistic children would change when California switched children from the Healthy Families program to Medi-Cal coverage.

About 400 of California’s autistic children lost coverage for applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy after the state made the switch to Medi-Cal, despite a Department of Health Care Services letter, dated Jan. 1, that assured families “Your child’s coverage will not be interrupted,” according to California Healthline.

Though the state has steadfastly denied the accusations, Alice Mayall of Livermore, a mother of a child with autism, maintains that information about the change was kept secret to achieve legislative approval more easily. Further, Sheldon Orloff, a Kaiser Permanente pediatric nephrologist, said Kaiser physicians were directed not to inform families of the changes.

“They told us in no uncertain terms that we couldn’t send out notifications to the families on multiple occasions,” Orloff said. “And we’re still not allowed to send any letters until the transition is over.”