Medicaid Waivers Targeting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Reduce the Need for Parents to Stop Working

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 36, no. 2, February 2017, pages 282-288.

Posted on RAND.org on March 13, 2017

by Douglas L. Leslie, Khaled Iskandarani, Diana L. Velott, Bradley D. Stein, David Mandell, Edeanya Agbese, Andrew W. Dick

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Several states have passed Medicaid home and community-based services waivers that expand eligibility criteria and available services for children with autism spectrum disorder. Although previous research has shown considerable variation in these waivers, little is known about the programs' impact on parents' workforce participation. We used nationally representative survey data combined with detailed information on state Medicaid waiver programs to determine the effects of waivers on whether parents of children with autism spectrum disorder had to stop working because of the child's condition. Increases in the Medicaid home and community-based services waiver cost limit and enrollment limit significantly reduced the likelihood that a parent had to stop working, although the results varied considerably by household income level. These findings suggest that the Medicaid waivers are effective policies to address the care-related needs of children with autism spectrum disorder.

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