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Human Services


Scott Hershberger


The study was an investigation into health care accessibility for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) following the transition to a private Medicaid system in the state of Florida. Pilot studies of managed Medicaid programs focused on costs and did not address how changes to the system impacted access to health care services. There were limited studies designed to understand how a change in the system, such as a privatization, would affect vulnerable populations such as young children with ASD. Additional concerns existed for children that were historically underserved by the health care system such as African American and Latino children because they typically had more difficulty accessing health care services in general. A modified version of the Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and System (CAHPS) Survey 4.0 was used in this study. The modifications to the survey included reducing the number of survey questions and adding open-ended questions. 86 participants were recruited from local organizations that supported children and families affected by ASD. Findings generated using nonparametric tests such as the Mann-Whitney U test and chi-square revealed delays in accessing therapeutic health care services that were pervasive in both private and public insurance groups. Furthermore, the qualitative analysis indicated that participants did not view their difficulties in accessing therapeutic health care services as related to race or ethnicity. Limitations of the study included the modifications made to the survey instrument. Implications for positive social change include a better understanding of the scope of the issue of therapeutic health care access for those advocating on behalf of children and families affected by autism.

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