Several South Carolina autism providers closing their doors - FOX Carolina 21

Several South Carolina autism providers closing their doors

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Several South Carolina autism therapy providers closing. (FOX Carolina/ June 21, 2017) Several South Carolina autism therapy providers closing. (FOX Carolina/ June 21, 2017)

Children with autism at a therapy center in Greenville are learning colors and letters. They see, hear and process things differently than others. 

"He has trouble with loud noises. He has trouble with his emotions," said Allison Bullock, who has two children, a 4-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. They both have autism, a developmental disorder that causes difficulty with communication and processing skills.

"With our ABA Therapy we've had a lot of help with his behaviors," Bullock said.

ABA is Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy. Bullock says it's expensive, so she got help through Palmetto Autism Interventions - a provider that gets Medicaid reimbursement through the state. But, she recently got an email.

"'We're going to have to close our business. We will no longer be able to operate,'" said the email Bullock received.

Now she's on three waiting lists to get therapy for her children. 

"I'm number 262 at one company," she said.

It's happening with other providers too. Scott Broud is Senior Supervisor with the Project Hope Foundation. The foundation provides services to those who have autism. 

"Because the rates are not sufficient for providers, you're seeing a lack of providers who are going to be able to provide Medicaid," Broud explained.

Project Hope recently closed its center in Charleston. 

"Heartbreaking to send that message to the families," said Broud.

He says providers throughout South Carolina are closing because the state has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. Right now he says some therapy centers are getting a reimbursement rate at $14 an hour.

"It makes it difficult to provide adequate pay for these technicians," Broud said.

Bullock says she's doing what she can, but like others, she's still waiting. 

"My children deserve a fighting chance, and right now, they don't have one," Bullock said.

Bullock says if she moved to North Carolina she may find more providers than in South Carolina because she says the Medicaid reimbursement rate for services there is $50 an hour.

FOX Carolina contacted administrators with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human services. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, FOX Carolina had not received a response from the department. 

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