Posted at: 10/22/2013 2:55 PM
| Updated at: 10/22/2013 4:46 PM
By: Bill Lambdin
ALBANY - New York State spends over $563 million a year assisting 69,000 toddlers with significant developmental problems.
"Children who are enrolled in the program receive an average of 15 hours of services per month," said Bradley Hutton, with the Bureau of Early Intervention of the New York department of Health.
Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk (D - Duanesburg) says "we can help children who are developmentally disabled reach further potential if we're working with them at a very young age. I've seen this first hand."
The early intervention services aren't the problem. Changes in the reimbursement system are.
It used to be that service providers treated the young children and sent the bills to the resident counties, who paid. The cost was considered an unfunded mandate, since the state required the county action, but did not pay for it.
About 40 percent of the treated children had some form of private insurance, but only two percent of the costs were being reimbursed by the private companies.
Last year the Cuomo administration and the Department of Health convinced the legislature to change the system. Now the service providers have to wrestle with the insurance companies. That's not going well at all.
"Many providers have mounting debts and they're being forced to either close their doors or decline taking new children into the program," said Tkaczyk.
The Health Department says they're working out the problems. Legislators don't agree.
Four different bills have been introduced addressing parts of the problem.