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State Autism Profiles: Michigan

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In 2000, 4,706 or 2.13% of children ages 3-21 who received special education services in Michigan have autism. In 2014-2015, 17,218 or 8.69% of children with disabilities ages 3-21 who received special education services have autism.

Table 1-1: IDEA Part B - Children with Autism in Michigan for 1999-2000 and 2014-2015
(Child Count by Age Group)

Age 3-5



Age 6-21



Age 3-21



Source: Reported by the State of Michigan in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

Table 1-2: IDEA Part B - Children with Disabilities in Michigan for 1999-2000 and 2014-2015
(Child Count by Age Group)

Age 3-5



Age 6-11



Age 12-17



Age 18-21



Age 6-21



Age 3-21



Source: Reported by the State of Michigan in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs


Autism Council
In the 2012 session, Governor Rick Snyder issued Executive Order 2012-11, creating an Autism Council within the State Department of Community Health. This council will implement the state’s Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan. The Autism Council identified priorities to address the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder across the lifespan and developed three primary committees (Early Childhood, Child and Youth, Adult) to support State implementation efforts of the Michigan ASD State Plan. In addition, an Insurance Committee was formed to address issues specific to the Autism Insurance Legislation. Each committee is charged with the development of activities that address needs identified in the ASD State Plan. These committee plans are updated regularly and inform the annual report.,4848,7-294-63678---,00.html,4848,7-294-63679---,00.html

The Michigan Autism Program
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) established the Michigan Autism Program in 2013 as part of the Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration to support the Medicaid and MIChild Autism Benefit, Michigan Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan, Autism Council, and autism services provided throughout Michigan.


In April 2012, S.B. 414 and 415 were signed by Governor Richard Snyder making Michigan the 30th state to enact autism insurance reform. For-profit, commercial, HMO, and non-profit health insurance companies regulated by the state of Michigan are mandated to provide an autism benefit to its insured members covering services related to the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) through 18 years of age. The new law includes coverage for care prescribed or by a licensed physician or a licensed psychologist who determines the care to be medically necessary. Coverage of evidence based services provided for under this legislation includes pharmacy, psychiatric, psychological, applied behavior analysis (ABA), speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and other behavioral services. Insurance companies are allowed to cap combined annual coverage of behavioral health treatment, including applied behavior analysis, at up to $50,000 per year for children through age six, $40,000 for a child ages seven through 12, and $30,000 for a child ages 13 through 18. To the extent that the federal Affordable Care Act, the specific benefits that exceed the essential health benefits are not required of qualified health plans that are offered in the state by a health carrier through a health benefit exchange.
(2011 SB 415: Fiscal Note) 2012 Mich. Pub. Acts, Act 100)

In 2015, S.B. 353 was introduced in the Michigan Senate to amend the autism insurance legislation passed in 2012. The bill would require insurers and health maintenance organizations to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. The bill also would require an adequate participating provider network. The bill was referred to the Committee on Insurance. No further action was taken.


Under the Affordable Care Act, Michigan will continue to offer autism services including applied behavior analysis (ABA) on its federally-run exchange. Michigan has categorized ABA under “rehabilitative and habilitative services.” The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reports that the Michigan Commissioner of Insurance has determined that habilitative services include ABA, even though the benchmark plan does not specify it.


Michigan Medicaid and MIChild Autism Benefit
The Michigan Medicaid and MIChild Autism Benefit went into effect on April 1, 2013. This Autism Benefit provides children ages 18 months through 5 years old who have a medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services. By qualifying for the Autism Benefit, the child may also be eligible for additional services such as Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Respite, Family Training, Community Living Supports, and Physical Therapy,4848,7-294-63682---,00.html

Michigan Home and Community-Based Services Waiver: MI Children's Waiver Program
This waiver, implemented on October 1, 2010, provides respite, enhanced transportation, fiscal intermediary, community living supports, environmental accessibility adaptations and specialized medical equipment and supplies, home-care training, and specialty service for individuals up to age 17 with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities. This waiver expired on September 30, 2015.


The Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services, offers personnel development grants – Autism Collaborative Endorsement and the Interdisciplinary Certificate – for instructors of students with autism through its Center for Educational Networking. The Autism Collaborative Endorsement (ACE) allows special education teachers to receive a second endorsement in autism through its online program. The Interdisciplinary Certificate is awarded to educators who have met a certain set of competencies, such as having obtained advanced education and experience in autism. Lastly, the Statewide Autism Resources & Training Center (START), in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education and Grand Valley State University, provides training and comprehensive resources to parents of individuals with autism and educators of students with autism.


The Autism Coverage Fund
The Autism Coverage Fund was created in 2012 as part of the state autism insurance mandate (see State Insurance Coverage above) to offset the cost of providing an autism benefit for health insurers, TPAs and self-insured companies. The Fund supports reimbursements paid to private health insurance carriers for claims associated with the diagnosis and treatment of ASD.
Autism Coverage Reimbursement Act; 2012 Mich. Pub. Acts, Act 100

However, since insurers had not been filing as many claims as anticipated, Governor Snyder signed legislation in December 2014 to take $5.5 million and redirect it to autism programs at universities and for autism related family assistance services. In 2015, the legislature passed and the Governor signed S.B. 137 which increased from $5.5 million to $8.5 million for fiscal year 2014-2015 only, the amount that may be expended for university autism programs and autism family assistance services from the Autism Coverage Fund.

With the increase in both insurer claims and university and family assistance services, it was anticipated that the Autism Fund would run out of money before year-end 2015. The program’s website now posts a disclaimer: "The Autism Coverage Reimbursement Program funding has been depleted. You may continue submitting claims for reimbursement. If additional funding becomes available, the claims will be reimbursed in the order they are received.",5269,7-303-13047_13049-297217--,00.html


The Michigan Legislature meets in Regular Session the second Wednesday in January each year. The 2016 session convened on January 13, 2016 and is expected to adjourn by December 31, 2016. The 2017 session is expected to convene on January 11, 2017.

Sponsors of Autism Legislation

  • Sen. Rebekah Warren (R-Washtenaw County) District 18
  • Sen. Margaret O'Brien (R-Kalamazoo) District 20
  • Sen. Dave Hildenbrand (R-Grand Rapids) District 29
  • Sen. Michael Green (R-Arenac, Bay, Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola Counties) District 31

Prepared by Easterseals, Inc.; November 2016.

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