Volume 56 | Number 6 | December 2021

Abstract List

Lindsay Lawer Shea DrPH, MS


To assess the use of Medicaid programs, including waivers, to address the needs of aging autistic individuals.

Data sources

We gathered data on Medicaid programs in place between 2004 and 2015 for 50 states and the District of Columbia from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, by contacting state Medicaid administrators and advocacy groups, and by reviewing the Medicaid Analytic eXtract Waiver Crosswalk.

Study design

This retrospective analysis classified each Medicaid program and documented state changes over time in eligibility criteria: those serving autism spectrum disorder only, autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disability, and intellectual disability only.

Data collection/extraction methods

We captured age and diagnosis eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs serving any of the three target groups.

Principal findings

A total of 269 Medicaid programs met our criteria and most programs (51%) were 1915(c) waivers. The number of autismā€specific 1915(c) waivers grew more than fivefold during the study period, outpacing increases in waivers serving individuals with intellectual disability.


States varied in their use of Medicaid to address the needs of the aging autism population. Further study of characteristics of states that changed their Medicaid programs, and of the health care use and outcomes associated with these changes, are needed to identify opportunities to replicate effective approaches to meeting the needs of this population.