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June 2014 summary of legislation impacting individuals affected by autism

The 2014 legislative session was a successful one for persons with autism and their family members. The omnibus bill (HF 3172 and SF 2785) contained several provisions including:

The 2014 legislative session was a successful one for persons with autism and their family members. The omnibus bill (HF 3172 and SF 2785) contained several provisions including:

1) A 10% reduction in parental fees for families whose children are eligible for medical assistance because of a disability, including autism. Although this fee reduction will benefit thousands of Minnesota families, more work needs to be done to provide relief for children with autism receiving Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA), which is scheduled to be eliminated at the end of this year.

2) Legislation related to the Medical Assistance autism early intensive intervention benefit created during the 2013 legislative session. One new provision expands the federal authority that the Commissioner of human services may use to gain approval for the autism benefit, specifically citing, but not limited to, Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT). The purpose of this provision is to ensure that the benefit will be available for families to access as soon as possible.

The new legislation also eliminated the requirement that two separate professionals must diagnose a child with autism in order to access the new benefit.  The new language states that a diagnosis must be completed by either a licensed physician or a mental health practitioner.

Additionally, a new section requires that the Commissioner shall provide statewide training on the autism benefit for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.  Training for autism service providers on culturally appropriate practices must be online, accessible, and available in multiple languages. The training for families, lead agencies, advocates, and other interested parties must provide information on the benefit and how to access it.

AuSM believes that all of these changes should provide earlier access to services for children with autism once the benefit is available.

3) Appropriation of $769,000 for an autism interagency website. The site will include autism-related resources for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder, their family members, and other interested parties. The commissioners of education, employment and economic development, and health are requested to provide technical assistance to the commissioner in the development of the website in order to consolidate autism-related resources that are under the jurisdiction of affected agencies, and any other related resources of which the agencies are aware, in an effort to provide a comprehensive intra-agency site for interested users. This is a onetime appropriation and expires on June 30, 2017.

4) Allocation of $2.5 million for autism family respite. The legislation provides for the development of in-home and out-of-home respite services to benefit children and adults with autism and their families. The Commissioner is allowed to authorize exceptions to the current licensing moratorium, up to eight beds, if needed to increase capacity.

Additional information about the 2014 session is available on the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities website and at the Coalition for Children with Disabilities website. For specific information about how this legislation may affect you or your family, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., AuSM Advocacy Committee Chair.