NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - It’s how his five-year-old son learned to speak, read, even clap.

So when Brandon Tidwell from Bon Aqua, TN learned that his autistic son’s behavior therapy through telehealth had been denied by their insurance company, he didn’t hold back.

“I was pissed,” Tidwell said.

After all, Tidwell’s son received up to fourteen hours a week of therapy before the coronavirus spread.

When his son’s school closed, the Tidwell’s only option was Alicia Lankford, the behavioral analyst they privately paid for.

Then came the news from Lankford: the Tidwell’s insurance would not be covering her services through telehealth.

“There’s no reason why Covid 19 – which is an added stressor to lives – should double up the pressure at home,” Tidwell said.

News4 Investigates was granted access to review Facebook messages on a private group of behavioral analysts across the country.

The posts show behavioral therapists from Florida to Nebraska writing that they were getting the run around from insurance carriers and denials.

“(Behavioral analysts) continue to report issues with getting coverage – especially with some of our military families and their insurance coverage,” Lankford said.

According to the state department of commerce and insurance, mental health services is required to be covered.

However, the state does not require that mental health therapy be covered through telehealth.

“If (coronavirus) goes three months – that’s a ten percent gap in his development that he’s missing,” Tidwell said.

The Tidwells said they had no choice but to call their state lawmakers and senators, asking them to contact their insurance providers to change their policy.

After five days, the news came that their son’s behavior analyst would be covered under telehealth.

Tidwell’s advice to other parents or anyone whose therapy via telehealth is denied?

“Don’t give up the fight,” Tidwell said.

The state department of commerce and insurance could not say how many complaints they’d received about telehealth denials, but did encourage people to file complaints https://www.tn.gov/commerce/insurance/consumer-resources/file-a-complaint.html

 

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Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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