ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, is making changes to the way children with autism get behavior analysis services through Florida Medicaid. Parents with children who receive this therapy were informed of the changes through a letter, dated March 19.

  • Parents fear changing pay of therapists will lead to them quitting
  • 5 changes are listed on letter sent to parents
  • BELOW: Read the letter

Five changes are listed on the letter. One of them refers to the way therapists will get paid for ABA therapy services. It reads, "We are changing the rates paid for behavior analysis services. This will not change how your child gets services. Behavior analysis services will still be available."

But some parents fear that changing the therapists' pay will lead to them quitting, which would make it harder to find behavior analysts to provide services.

Spectrum Bay News 9 spoke with Dr. Terry Blackmon, the Vice President of Clinical Services at Full Spectrum ABA. She says parents have been calling her to voice their concerns about this change.

"Honestly I see ABA being dismantled in the State of Florida," said Blackmon.

Blackmon says she's been told AHCA plans to cut the pay for Registered Behavior Technicians, or RBTs, by 50 percent. She says right now they are paid on average about $15 to $18 an hour. Blackmon is confident many RBTs will find new jobs if their pay is cut. 

"That changes what we can do and what we can accomplish, how many kids we can see, how effective we can be," said Blackmon. 

Other changes in the letter include a service coordinator visiting with the families receiving these services. The letter says that meeting may include an assessment of the child. 

Blackmon says she doesn't see the value in that, since the kids receiving behavior analysis services through Medicaid have been diagnosed by physicians and have presented the necessary information to show ABA therapy is needed. 

"These are their kids, these are children who have really made great progress with ABA and they're terrified they're going to lose that progress," said Blackmon.

Below is a copy of the letter Spectrum Bay News 9 obtained from a parent. We reached out to AHCA for a statement but haven't heard back.