Autism Advocates Demand Action From Allegheny County Officials

Jan 20, 2010, 12:18 ET from Autism Centers of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Autism advocates and parents of children with autism are demanding action from Allegheny County following the release of a Census Report from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare indicating that Allegheny County has the highest number of autism cases in the Commonwealth.

After several meetings with County officials where parents told stories of being on waiting lists for federally mandated behavioral health services, parents demanded that Allegheny County and it's managed care organization, Community Care Behavioral Health Organization (CCBHO) open their networks to new providers.

"It's ludicrous that Allegheny County and CCBHO refuse to open the provider networks when we have families waiting anywhere from six months to a year for services," said Cindy Waeltermann, Founder and Director of the Autism Centers of Pittsburgh.  "We received a letter from a physician from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh asking for our help for a family that had been waiting for nearly two years for services," she says.

According to Pennsylvania State Medicaid bulletin 01-01-05 services are legally "expected to begin no later than 60 days after the initial request."  

"My family has lived in two counties in Pennsylvania since my son was diagnosed with autism. We have never had any problems accessing wraparound services for him until we moved to Allegheny County.  We are shocked by the lack of service providers," said Jane Dunmore of Mt. Lebanon.  "This is totally unacceptable. The system in Allegheny County is the worst I have seen, and it is imperative that we fix it now, particularly when you consider that Allegheny County now has the highest rate of autism in the state," Dunmore said.

"The Autism Centers of Pittsburgh and the parents who turn to us for help will use any and all means necessary to ensure that these children receive the services that are federally mandated, including legal avenues," according to Waeltermann.  

SOURCE Autism Centers of Pittsburgh