Lawmakers, families discuss increasing autism treatment access
Lawmakers discuss a bill to improve access to care for families seeking treatment for autism.
The highlight of build is very important. Not just too many people here in the June assembly but also our autism community here in the state of North Carolina. The positive impact of this legislation all families and those with autism cannot be overstated. Ah, simplifying regulations to improve access to quality and timely care. It will be a huge beneficial. It will be hugely beneficial the countless families across the state who are affected by autism. I've heard from many of these families providers in my district as well as across the state who are in desperate need to see this happen. Many, many today, many of them you'll hear from and today, and you'll hear from in very personal terms about how this bill is very important to them, not only for their Children but also the entire family. Currently, North Carolina is the only state in the country where behavior analysis are who provide highly effective treatment to Children with autism, aren't able to practice independently. Under current state regulations, qualified professionals must operate under supervision of a licensed psychologist. This has led to few providers long wait, list high costs and reduce access to treatment for Children with autism, particularly in our rural communities. To address the issue, our bill was simply allow behavior analysis to operate independently as they were qualified to do and provide treatment directly to those in need. This will help expand access to timely and quality treatment for those in need. It will also put North Carolina on the same level as other states, which will help recruit more providers and cut down on wait times. This is a huge win for these families and a huge win for our rural communities. Today we're joined by Senator Jim Perry. We're also joined by representatives Jack Hawkins and I like to read the bill sponsors to you, uh, Senate Bill one oh three. The bill sponsors are led by Senator Jim Perry, Senator Michael Lee and Senator Lisa Barnes. On the House side, uh, House Bill 91 is led by representative John Bell, represented down in Lambeth Doctor representative Christian Baker and represented Jason, saying also co sponsored by representative Jack Hawkins. Today also joined us and you're gonna hear from former representative Chuck McGrady, Christie Cabo Apparent physician, military family. Kyle Robinson, Apparent and present, a nonprofit Monique Baker business owner and B c b a. Uh, clinician Matt Filler, CEO of the largest a B a company in North Carolina, and Callie Plattner, Psychologists and B c B A. Uh, these folks are joining us today and look forward, Thio the conversation we're gonna have, uh we did just have our health committee, uh, recess. And so I also welcome represent Lambeth and represent banker to the stage to join us. At this time, I'll turn over the podium to Senator Jim Carey. Hi. Thank you. Represented Bill. Uh, you know, we work on so many different things here the General Assembly, and some of them are highly technical. Some are very contentious. And then, uh, some are not. Some just feel really good when you're able Thio work on problems that exist that we must acknowledge. So if you think about the issue we have in this field in North Carolina, in very simple terms, we probably need anywhere from 8 to 10 times the number of behavioral analyst therapists that we could have that we need 8 to 10 times what the number we have today. It's just a throughput issue. If you look a available data we have somewhere between 50 and 65,000 kids in our state with ASD. And if we continue down the final and we think we have somewhere around 680 behavioral analysts in the state. And then we had about 62 psychologists to provide the supervision. And if we as lawmakers and leaders, they're going to think about problems that we face in our ability thio to make a difference and impact lives because this certainly impacts families and Children, then we have to be willing to look at obvious problems like that and come up with very reasonable solution. So I'm thankful to be part of this today. I can't say enough about the hard work that representative Chuck McGrady has done over the years on this subject, and I'm certainly thankful to him. And I'm thankful Thio, our co sponsors on the bill. It feels good to be able to once again come together and work on something that certainly doesn't have any partisan, lean or been at all and fix real problems for North Carolinians. So I'm very happy to be here today at this point. Thank you, Senator Perry, and as many of you know there's been around the building. Uh, this issue has been circulating for a number of years. I believe former representative official Kawthoung has worked on this and then recently until his retirement represented Chuck McGrady has been a Stallworth on trying to navigate the legislative process with this bill. So at this time, I like to welcome former representative migrated to the podium to say a few words. Surprised? Thank you for that pleasant surprise. Actually, it has been a long time. Thio get here ofttimes. These types of licensure bills are viewed as is trying to keep people from competing for jobs. In this case, it's just sort of the opposite without licensure for the people that are the primary caregivers, uh, for artistic kids, um, we're not able to serve, um, at that critical point in these Children's lives, Um, those Children so that they can be fully developed adults, uh, later in their lives. And so I can't thank Senator Perry and Representative Bell enough. I got thwarted towards the end of last session, and Representative Bell talked me down from exploding things on. Uh, I'm glad he did. On bees, gentlemen, along with Senator Raven and others all said we will take this up. Um, trust me. And, uh, it really means a lot. And it's going to mean a lot for a lot of kids and a lot of families in the state. So thank you very much. And hopefully we'll get a Senate reception, much like we've gotten in the house over the last six years on this bill. Thank you. Thank you. Represent, McGrady also joining us today. I have a number of health committee. Um, but before we get to other members on representing Lambeth represented Baker, two of our bill sponsor. Would you like to say anything? Thank you. Uh, majority leader Bill, for those of, you know, trap McGrady. You know, he makes a point of trying to blow things up on occasions when he was here, so we're glad to see him back, But we're glad he can't blow up things anymore. But he was a great colleague, and this has been a passion of his and and therefore it's been a passion of many of us because we think this is so important for these families. And, you know, I came to Raleigh a few years ago because I wanted to help people in North Carolina. I wanted to work on issues that made a difference for Children particularly. And this bill improves access to care. And that's really what it's all about. And these Children deserve that. These families deserve that. And I'm really proud to be part of this sponsorship of this bill. I think we do look forward to continue Thio, work it through the system. It will be going to a committee in which it will get a hearing later today, actually this morning and our health committee as it moves to the process on, we look forward to continuing to work through these next few weeks to get this bill passed. Thank you for being here and thank you for being here. Aziz were working on this particular bill. Thank you, Reverend Lam with Dr Backwards. Let's say thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Leader Bell and I would just like to echo what Representative Land said about access to care. And so, just as a reminder, Um, I mean, I'm super excited about this as a child psychiatrist. I'm just so pleased an honor to be part of this as a reminder. Um, a B A is an evidence based intervention, Andi. It has shown that it can cause improvements over multiple settings and over a lifespan. And so the effectiveness really can't be overstated on Ben. In addition to that, it is an intervention that is based on behavioral reinforcement, positive behavioral reinforcement. And that is the most effective behavioral tool that we have. And so I'm just really excited that we can make this therapy more accessible. And this is going to make an impact in life skills, in social skills, in school and academic learning and in the workforce. So I'm just I'm so grateful for the work that began and that we were able toe bring this bill, um, to the forefront right now at a really critical time. Um, you know, for our state and our country in terms of learning and development. So and I thank you all for being here and look forward to working together to move this forward. Thank you. Thank you, Reverend Baker Rosenthal. I wanna thank you, Leader Bill, for the opportunity this morning in North Carolina. We say with we grow strong in the strong group great. And this bill is a bill that helps us exemplify that on day. One of the reasons that I ran for office is because I said, I believe in a better North Carolina. That's where every every child, no matter where you from your background on where you live, you should be able to maximize your God given potential. And this bill does that. And for me, this is really personal. Not only am I a a legislator, it represents Durham, but I'm a dad of two little boys, four and six with autism. And so to see parents here today to see advocates here today to see this be a bipartisan issue, one where we all see ourselves and see the humanity and each other in each other. And we wanna make sure that these families have access to care. This is this is in almost emotional for me. And so I am just so grateful for my colleagues and all the bill sponsors. Chuck McGrady. I remember us talking about it on the floor last session because this will change families. Um, my wife and I are lucky enough to live in Durham, where you have access but so many people since we decided to go live about our two boys have an autism have reached out and shared that because I live in Carteret County. I don't have anybody to go to. I want to move to North Carolina. But because we don't have access to these types of services, we don't move to the Great North, the old North State, and for me, that's unacceptable. And so this is what leadership looks like. This is what bipartisan work looks like. And this is what? Caring for the families and creating access looks like. And so again, Leader Bill, Chuck McGrady, Senator. Period. We're gonna hold him to making this work in the Senate. You heard it here. Um, but this is a good day for North Carolina. And so thank you for being here. And I again on behalf of my personal family and for families all across North Carolina. One thing we know, autism isn't going anywhere. So the ability to make sure that the interventions that my son's receive everyone else can. This is this is what we're supposed to be doing. So thank you so much and appreciate. Okay, um, next move into our subject matter experts. And thank you for the representative centers. They're here. They support this bill. Um, Christie. Cowboy, I'm sure. I'm sure I've butchered your name twice now, but the floor is yours. Please, please come up and share information with us. Thank you very much. Thank you. My name is Christy Cab. Wow. I'm a family medicine doctor, a military spouse. And most importantly, Logan's mom. Logan was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. While we were stationed in Florida at the time of diagnosis, Logan didn't make eye contact and he wasn't able to communicate his needs. Despite my years of medical training, I felt overwhelmed and unable to help our son. As a doctor, I knew the importance of early intervention. Logan received a year of a B A before my husband was transferred to Pope. Brag, I was worried that my son would experience a break and services due to our transfer. But my family is honored to serve our country. And we go where our country sends us. Several months before I move, I began interviewing Abia companies and logo was placed on wait list with four different clinics before my husband was issued. Final orders are Family appeared in front of an advisory panel to discuss if adequate services were available in North Carolina. I didn't understand why the services were limited until a fellow military spouse moved to the area. She is a board certified behavioral analyst and chose to continue working remotely instead of in North Carolina. The reason was the oversight requirement by a psychologist. She was worried this would limit her earning potential and and to create effective treatment plans. So the benefit of her years of experience and expertise is not available to Children in North Carolina, but instead is given to Children in another state. I'm lucky that Logan was able to start a BA soon after we moved here. Other military families were not as lucky. Logan has received a BA for three years and is doing extremely well. He's learning to communicate with a computer, and I have learned how to help him navigate with the world around him. I'm no longer overwhelmed when thinking about his future, and I have new dreams for Logan. This happened because of early behavioral intervention, and I'm excited to see what his future holds and we hope to make North Carolina our home in the future. Thank you. Thank you very much, huh? No, I asked Kyle Robinson Robinson family to join us. My name is Kyle Robinson. We've got Samuel Robinson or nine year old son and my wife, Bobby here today. And, uh, just really appreciate everybody up here that's supporting this bill were one of the lucky families. Um, samples have been getting the services. He was two years old. A That's life changing, not only for Samuel, but our family. Um, from a little boy that as a dad, you don't know if he's ever when you walk in the house. If you if he's ever going to say, hey, Dad, Dad or give you a hug. Uh, now he talks all the time. Uh, this your turn after data. That's right. He's made so much progress. Um, when he was diagnosed, my wife, Bobbie she, uh she quit her teaching job, and her and Samuel let go thio Winston Salem throughout the week for therapy and then come back to Greenville, North Carolina, on the weekends and through that and other families in eastern North Carolina. My wife and I, along with members of the Greenville community, started a nonprofit to serve other families to give them access. And the wait list I know in Eastern North Carolina is long is extensive. Way were one of the lucky families to be able to gain access to care. And for us, as a family, the most important things is you want your child to reach their full potential. And, uh, that's all you know, we asked. We know God's in control and that way just want him to reach his full potential. So this bill is gonna allow more access to care, which is really vital in eastern North Carolina and also quality. You know, you wanna make sure that you have clinicians that air Board certified that go through a rigorous process toe, get the credentialing to serve your child and have confidence that they're getting quality care. And this bill will do that. And we really appreciate all you guys being champions for Children. Um, like Samuel in our family. The same thing, Samuel? No. Something here. Not always, honey. Yeah. Thank you. Tina. You can hear a Yeah, happy. Hi, Tina. E o. Uh, thank you, Samuel. great job. Great job. Uh, next my Nick Baker. Oh, it looks like Thank you. How that are? Do you think I appreciate the opportunity to speak on Hospital 91 Senate Bill one of three today, And I'm very thing sponsors who are making this important bill happen. My name is Monique Baker and I'm a B c B A in business owner. In 2014, I saw there was a need for Children with autism, and I started a company that serves Children in Maurin Wake County's. We currently serve approximately 50 Children with autism providing a BA services. I am passionate about the work that we do in the need to provide the service to my community. We have survived the pandemic coming out stronger than before, but now face a hurdle that may result in us having determinate services for all of our clients and lay off over 30 employees. North Carolina is currently the only state in the country where BCBS cannot practice independently. BCBS are required to undergo rigorous academic and supervised fieldwork experience requiring a master's degree or PhD and at least 1500 supervised hours. Currently, the North Carolina psychology practice act creates a barrier such that all of the work that BCBS conduct must be overseen by licensed psychologist. Again, we're the only state in the country that has this barrier. There are currently 62 psychologists who are also BCBS. There are approximately 67,000 Children in North Carolina who are on the autism spectrum. Yet only 62 professionals to supervise the work that BCBS are already trained to dio. This is why my company, along with 80% of Abia companies in North Carolina, will continue to have long wait lists, some as long as 400 Children. Unless we pass this bill. Recently, the licensed psychologist supervising all of our BCBS had to resign, effective the end of this month. This has left my company, our staff and the families that we serve in an extremely precarious situation. I've placed ads in agencies across the state, utilize social media, reached out of personal emails and have not been able to locate one single qualified individual to supervise the services that we provide for Children with autism. This North Carolina specific barrier creates huge issues with access to care, causes long weightless and forces higher costs to businesses. It also serves to create situations such as mine where staff are in danger of losing their jobs. But more importantly, Children with autism are in danger of losing their services. Well, sometimes licensing boards can create restrictions. I would ask you to carefully consider the fact that creating a licensing board for behavior analyst in North Carolina does quite the opposite. I know that our state could do better for Children with autism. And we must pass House Bill 91 Senate Bill one of three, and reduce the unnecessary regulations that are keeping Children with autism from getting the services that they desperately need. Thank you for your time. Thank you very much. Followed? Yeah. Okay. Good morning. Thank leader Bone. Thank you to All of our sponsors were hard on this very important legislation. Um, my name is Matt Filer, and I'm the chief executive officer and managing member of Mosaic Pediatric Therapy Way, our North Carolina's largest autism therapy company and largest employer of board certified behavior analysts. We're here today to ask this body for its thoughtful consideration in helping to eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulation which has restricted access to critical a BA services for thousands of families in need as you leader, as you heard Leader Bill mentioned, is opening remarks. Current restrictions imposed by North Carolina Psychology Practice Act requires every B, C, B A and every child receiving a B A therapy to be supervised by a licensed psychologist. And, as your Miss Baker say, there are a total of 62 psychologists in all of North Carolina that are qualified to provide this type of serpent supervision that 62 supervisors for over 65,000 Children with autism. This regulation also strangles job growth by discouraging BCBS from coming to our state and dissuading young North Carolina professionals from pursuing careers. BCBS. To meet the current need, North Carolina must add 6000 new board certified behavior analysts, and that is an impossibility. Under current regulations, these restrictions have real consequences that are felt by thousands of families across North Carolina. Right now, according to a recent survey of North Carolina ABBA providers, more than 80% of those providers have weightless for services of four months or more, and weightless of up to a year are not uncommon. No family in need should have to wait this long for help for their child. Today, we're asking for support of this legislation for B C B. A s and allowing them to practice independently as they do in all other states. This licensure would remove major regulatory barriers to care and help ensure North Carolina families have access to the need they care they need and deserve. Thank you, man. Um, Callie. Partner, representative Ingredients. Good to see you again. Thank you all for the work that you're doing. My name is Callie Plattner, and I'm a licensed psychologist practicing here in North Carolina because I'm a licensed psychologist, I can practice independently. You're probably now wondering why I'm standing here speaking with you, but the reason to me is obvious. The reason I'm here is because the Children I serve need more. They need more services and they need more BCBS for some additional context. My master's degrees in behavior analysis and I'm entering my third year of a doctoral program also in behavior analysis. Because of this, I can speak firsthand to the exceptional knowledge, experience and skill that a B C B A receives during their graduate training. For the last 13 years, I've had to utilize my psychology license to supervise BCBS, as required under the current North Carolina law, and I can assure you they do not need me. But the Children in our autism community do need them. For over a decade, I've watched BCBS help adolescents become toilet trained. After years of requiring diapers, I've watched BCBS effectively reduced self injury and aggression. I've watched them make it possible for a parent to safely take their child into the community. And I've watched countless Children speak for the very first time. I respectfully ask for the additional support in favor of House Bill 91 Senate Bill one of three so that BCBS can increase the reach of their life changing services and work and support the families of North Carolina. Thank you. Thank you very much. In closing, I want to thank the number of people won't think Patrick Valentine for his work and effort in this. I want to thank all the stakeholders that air here today. The families that are here today I wanna thank my counterparts in the house and also our friends in the Senate and Reverend McGrady. Good to see you back. It's amazing what happens when you leave this place. You get thinner and happier. Uh, but, uh, you know that this says you can tell there's a lot of passion behind this bill. A lot of support behind this bill on both sides of the aisle. And this is just a small part of the work we're doing to improve access to care all throughout North Carolina And a two this point, I'll turn over questions, uh, during the questions and we gotta get the work. We've got a bill to pass. It is. I'm sorry. Yeah, it is a question for the press. What happened? Disgusting and commuter outside. Any questions or depressed CNN. Thank you very much for going to committee. Thanks very much. Thanks. Thanks First. Hey. Thank you. Thank you.