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Pennsylvania Receives First-In-Nation Federal Waiver to Serve Adults With Autism
May 22, 2008

Governor Edward G. Rendell announced that Pennsylvania has been approved for a first-of-its-kind federal waiver program to provide home and community-based services specifically for adults with autism. The $20 million-a-year waiver program, which is expected to serve up to 200 individuals 21 years of age and older with autism, was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Prior to its approval, no dedicated services existed for adults with autism in Pennsylvania.

"This landmark program marks the first time that the federal government has approved the use of federal Medicaid funds to provide individual and family-based services specific to adults with autism," Governor Rendell said. "Prior to the establishment of this waiver program, there was nothing designed for people with autism once they reached the age of 21."

Secretary of Public Welfare (DPW) Estelle B. Richman, a consistent champion for Pennsylvanians with autism, said the new waiver program was one of the five main recommendations of Pennsylvania's Autism Task Force. Under Richman's tenure, DPW appointed its first director of autism affairs and established the Bureau of Autism Services, which also were major recommendations made by the task force.

The waiver program will give adults with autism and their families the opportunity to choose a variety of available services designed to address their unique needs and maximize opportunities for independence and community inclusion. "Long-term planning is a never-ending concern for the parents and families of adults with autism and this waiver will provide many families with peace-of-mind because they will know their loved ones will be supported when they are unable to support them," said Richman. "We have been working for many years to bring a higher level of service to Pennsylvanians with autism and their families and I am thrilled that the work of countless individuals will now be realized."

Individuals determined to be eligible for the waiver program will be able to receive supports and services including family respite, employment assessment and supported employment, behavior supports and crisis intervention, and environmental modifications.

For more information on services for people with autism in Pennsylvania, visit www.autisminpa.org. For more information about the Department of Public Welfare, visit www.dpw.state.pa.us.

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