Autism Spectrum Disorders Services: Final Report on Environmental Scan

Official Title
Autism Spectrum Disorders Services: Final Report on Environmental Scan
Julie Young, Carolyn Corea, James Kimani & David Mandell
IMPAQ Health
Report prepared for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2010). Autism Spectrum Disorders Services (ASDs): Final report on environmental scan. Baltimore, MD: Young, J., Corea, C., Kimani, J. & Mandell, D.

Recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the number of children diagnosed with autism is increasing. Prevalence data collected from various communities across the country show that about 1 in 110 children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As the number of individuals diagnosed with ASD rises, budgetary constraints limit the capacity of states to provide related services and supports. To make the most effective use of limited resources, Federal and state policymakers need empirical data to make informed decisions about which services and support systems are safe and cost-effective.

Currently, relatively little is known about the effectiveness of many autism interventions and services. Few initiatives and studies have focused on providing information about the most effective services for individuals with ASD. For example, several reviews have been published examining the evidence for the effectiveness of behavioral interventions for children with ASD.

A more comprehensive, recent initiative is the National Standards Project, which gathered and analyzed comprehensive information about the evidence base for interventions for individuals with ASDs under 22 years of age. These efforts have provided useful information about the most effective services and supports for individuals with ASD. However, these studies and most other research on ASD services have focused on children, and as a result, little or no data exist on services for adolescents and adults. In addition, no efforts exist at the national level to examine ASD services and supports within the context of Medicaid.

To address this information need, CMS contracted with IMPAQ International to conduct an environmental scan of the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness, safety, and quality of services and supports for children, transitioning youth, and adults with ASD. The IMPAQ team also included relevant cost and funding literature relating to ASDs in the environmental scan. The findings from the environmental scan will help CMS address the following questions:

  • What is the strength of the evidence for services that people with ASD may receive?
  • What services can Medicaid cover as medical assistance under various statutory authorities?

Data collected on the strength of evidence for services in this environmental scan will provide CMS with much-needed information to inform policy and funding decisions related to ASD services and supports.