CHEO to start a 'fee-for-service' for autism therapy
CHEO is breaking ground in an area it never anticipated: charging for autism services.
The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario has released a price list of costs that it will directly charge families of kids receiving therapy. CHEO says it's not trying to make money through this "fee-for-funding" model. But parents say what's clear from those numbers is what they've been saying all along. The money the government is promising them won't come anywhere near the money they need to help their kids.
Every week for months now, a handful of parents have stood outside Minister Lisa MacLeod's office in Ottawa fighting the changes to autism funding, worried sick about the future of their kids.
“We are not giving up, we can't,” says Kate Logue, a mother of two children on the spectrum, “We have to keep going.”
The picture is a little clearer today from CHEO which provides the bulk of services in this region to kids with autism. The hospital has just released a guide to help parents understand what they will now pay for autism therapy at CHEO.
“This is completely new for CHEO,” says the hospitals President and CEO Alex Munter, “We've never done anything like this. It's surprising for us to be in this position but it's what we have to do under the rules of the new program if we want to provide behavioral services and have a program at all.”
Under the new spring and summer fee-for-service schedule, comprehensive IBI therapy or intensive therapy would cost $1900 a week for a four-day option, or $76/hour with a 12-week minimum commitment. Focused ABA therapy, which is less intensive, could be spread over 40 hours at a cost of $3360 dollars or $84 an hour.
CHEO maintains this is just a temporary measure because it doesn't know what the government’s next step will be. What it does know is that autism services will be completely de-funded at CHEO by April 1 of next year.
Kerry Monaghan, who has two children with autism, says it's clear from CHEO's numbers that the government's new program won't come close to meeting the needs of kids.
“CHEO is asking for $1900 a week for services and children like my son who require full time 25/hour week service will be given a cheque for $5000.”
And that's why moms like Talitha Leblanc continue to show up at Minister MacLeod’s office every single week.
“I'm out here because I have two children who have a chance to learn,” she says, “This isn't about needing education, it's health care.”
Parents say they were hoping CHEO would have told the government it won't tolerate a two-tier system for children with autism.
CHEO maintains it's still waiting for the government to decide on the final rules of the game.