Families Faced with Autism Can Count on Medicaid

J-Jaye Hurley and her son Jackson are like any other Georgia family: they live in a quiet subdivision, shop at a local Kroger grocery store and like to take trips to the lake to go swimming. Jackson is 13 years old – and lives with autism.

Thanks to Medicaid, J-Jaye says, they’re able to live like their neighbors – just with a little bit of extra support. She credits Medicaid for providing Jackson with the care he needs and giving the family peace of mind.

Medicaid makes sure Jackson has a Certified Nursing Assistant, who comes to the Hurley home to help Jackson perform activities that he cannot do independently. That means J-Jaye and her husband can focus on other responsibilities – like going to work and running errands – and trust that Jackson is in good hands while they’re gone.

Medicaid also covers Jackson’s care services and helps the Hurley family pay for his medication, which saves them an estimated $8,000 each year. This all provides “relief for my family,” J-Jaye says. “You don’t realize how the trajectory of the rest of your life changes when your child is diagnosed with autism, but fortunately Medicaid and other programs are there to help you.”

J-Jaye’s experience with Medicaid inspired her to help other families with special needs. She currently works as an Autism Response Team Associate at Autism Speaks, where she answers phone calls and emails from local Georgian families looking for support. One of the most important things she does is help them navigate the Medicaid program, including annual re-enrollment and working with the program to cover services that traditional health insurance might not cover.

About 1.5 million children in the United States live with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Medicaid helps more than half of these children by serving as a safety net that their families can rely on.