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Autism Insurance Bill Introduced in Louisiana

March 28, 2008

(Baton Rouge, LA - March 28, 2008) Legislation has been introduced in Louisiana to require insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders. The bill has been introduced by State Representative Franklin Foil (R-70) of Baton Rouge. The bill would require Louisiana healthcare policies to cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other medically necessary, evidence-based treatments prescribed by an insured's treating physician with annual coverage for up to $50,000 a year. The Louisiana Session will kick off on Monday, March 31 and residents of that state will have a tight turnaround of fewer than 90 days to push this bill through both chambers to Governor Bobby Jindal's desk for signature.

Date: 3/28/2008

Autism Speaks Joins the Arizona Autism Community in Hailing Governor Janet Napolitano and State Legislators for Enacting Autism Insurance Legislation
(March 21, 2008) Arizona Becomes Latest State to Revise its Insurance Laws to Require Coverage of Evidence-Based, Medically Necessary Autism Therapies.
(NEW YORK, NY - March 21, 2008)  Autism Speaks today joined Arizona families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding Governor Janet Napolitano and the state's legislators for enacting House Bill 2847, which will require insurance carriers to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services. Autism Speaks has launched a multi-state initiative to address this discrimination.

The new Arizona law requires insurers to cover up to $50,000 a year for Applied Behavior Analysis therapy for children until age nine, and $25,000 a year for children until age sixteen. It covers therapy for children whose diagnoses reflect the full range of the autism spectrum. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Surgeon General, among others, as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.

“Every state in the nation, and every Governor, is facing the same struggle to meet the treatment needs of this growing population,” said Governor Napolitano. “In my view and in the view of the families who have struggled to pay for necessary treatments for their children with autism -- often resulting in bankruptcy or families joining the state welfare rolls -- HB 2847 is a necessary insurance update to cover essential treatments for these children.”

“With the enactment of this legislation, Arizona joins the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks vice president for government relations. “These families are either going broke trying to provide services for their children or stitching together inadequate treatment plans because they simply cannot afford the help their children need and deserve. That is about to change.”

The passage of this legislation was the result of a grass-roots advocacy effort led by hundreds of committed families with the support of local and national advocacy organizations, including: the Autism Society of America, Greater Phoenix Chapter; ASA Pima County and Northern Arizona Chapter; Supporting Autism Now through Education (SANE); Asperger Parent Network; Arizona Autism Coalition; Arizona Autism Support; Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), Recover our Kids (ROK), and the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), among others.

“This new law is a great victory for Arizona families and those living with autism,” said Lisa Glow, CEO of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC). “We are especially pleased that the legislation includes coverage of therapies for individuals with Asperger's Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), in addition to autistic disorder. All children on the spectrum can make improvements with treatment, so no category of children should be excluded or discriminated against.”

“The autism community came together in support of this legislation in a way that was unprecedented,” said Gretchen Jacobs, a lobbyist -- and mother of a four year-old girl with autism -- who worked on the legislation. “Family members from around the state made phone calls, wrote letters and walked the districts of lawmakers. It was a coordinated campaign that brought out the best in our community.”

The legislative effort began as “Steven's Law”, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Amanda Aguirre of Tucson (Senate Bill 1263), and named after the son of Char Ugol, the mother of a child with autism. The bill was then amended onto House Bill 2847 sponsored by Rep. Bill Konopnicki.
Read More about Arizona

Date: 3/21/2008

PA Autism Insurance Bill Senate Hearing Set for APRIL 1, 2008
(March 19, 2008) The most important day for autism insurance coverage in Pennsylvania is approaching.
(Harrisburg, PA - March 19, 2008) The most important day for autism insurance coverage in Pennsylvania is swiftly approaching in Pennsylvania!
On April 1, 2008 at 10 AM, Capitol Building Complex (Harrisburg), Hearing Room 1 of the North Office Building, the Pennsylvania Senate Banking & Insurance Committee will conduct a public hearing regarding the merits of HB 1150.
If you are from Pennsylvania, we would love to have you join Autism Speaks at the hearing and help us pack the room to demonstrate to lawmakers how important this bill is for our children.  The more the merrier!  Don't come alone!  Bring your families, neighbors, co-workers....we need to fill up the room and spill out into the hallways.
Opponents of HB 1150 continue to argue falsely that insurance coverage for treating children with autism is unnecessary and that the bill will cause insurance rates to increase up to 6%.  In truth, we know that such services are not only critical to the future well-being of thousands of Pennsylvania’s children, but also that HB 1150 will have a less than 1% effect on private insurance rates.
The panelists selected to testify in favor of HB 1150 include:

  • Richard M. Foxx, Ph.D., BCBA, Penn State University
  • David Gates, Esq., The Pennsylvania Health Law Project
  • James N. Bouder, MPA, The Vista School
    Kim Motosicky, Parent
  • Rachel Brooks, Miss Pennsylvania 2007

Again, please help us end the discriminatory practices of private insurance companies by attending the hearing and showing your support for the panelists and HB 1150.
For additional information contact:
Eastern PA:    Rachel Brooks at rachelmariebrooks@yahoo.com

Central PA:    Jim Bouder at jbouder@thevistaschool.org

Western PA:  Patti McCloud at mccloud@zoominternet.net
 
Northeastern PA: George Shady at GRShadie@aol.com
TAKE ACTION NOW ON PA AUTISM INSURANCE BILL!

Date: 3/19/2008

Autism Insurance Bills PASS First Round of Committee Meetings!!
(March 18, 2008) Bills pass in Florida House and Senate Committees
(Tallahassee, FL - March 18, 2008)  Both SB 2654 and HB 1291 passed in the State House and Senate Committee meetings today!! These bills will reform Florida state law to provide appropriate insurance coverage for children with autism for treatments and therapies including applied behavioral analysis therapy. 
Rep. Eduardo Gonzalez WITHDREW his amendment to lower the cap on benefits to $8,000.  Thank you to all those in his district who made last minute calls yesterday!!
SB 2654 passed unanimously in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meeting today.  HB 1291 passed almost unanimously in the House Health Innovation Committee meeting.  Three state representatives voted NO on HB 1291: Rep. Frishe, Rep. Weatherford, and Rep. Petronis.
A second round of Committee hearings in both houses is set to follow.  Stay tuned to Autism Votes for the lastest news and Take Action opportunity!

Date: 3/18/2008

Florida State Legislature to Hold Committee Hearings on Autism Insurance Bills!
(March 17, 2008) Tomorrow, both the Florida State House and State Senate will be holding hearings on autism insurance reform legislation.
(Tallahassee, FL - March 17, 2008)  Tomorrow, both the Florida State House and State Senate will be holding hearings on autism insurance reform legislation, House Bill 1291 and Senate Bill 2654.  The hearings will be held by the House Health Innovation Committee and Senate Banking and Insurance Committee
If you live within a 2 hour driving distance of Tallahassee we would love for you to join us on Tuesday, March 18, for the State House and Senate Committee meetings on these bills.  The House meeting will be held from 8:30 am to 10:45 am in Morris Hall and the Senate meeting will be held from 9:15 am to 11:30 am in 412 Knott Building.  Be sure to be in the Capitol by 8am, because we need to pack the room!  There are 200 seats and we need to show them how much we need this bill with our physical presence.

Date: 3/17/2008

Dodd/Collins Amendment Passes
(March 14, 2008) Amendment will increase funding for autism research.
(Washington, DC - March 14, 2008) Autism Speaks sends heartfelt thanks to our many supporters in the Senate for their steadfast support of autism research funding. Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Susan Collins offered an  amendment to the FY2009 Budget Resolution to increase funding for autism research, education and early detection by $197 million. This increase authorizes doubling of autism research funding. Additionally,  Senator Arlen Specter and Senator Tom Harkin offered an amendment to increase research funding at the NIH by 2 billion in FY2009. Both amendments passed overwhelmingly. Thank you, Senators, for your efforts on behalf of children, adults, and families affected by autism.

Date: 3/14/2008

Autism Insurance Bill Introduced in Missouri State General Assembly
(March 13, 2008) Autism insurance reform was introduced in the state of Missouri.
(Jefferson City, MO - March 13, 2008)   Legislation was recently introduced in the state of Missouri by State Representative Sam Page (D-82), House Bill 2351, and Senator Chris Koster (D-31), Senate Bill 1229 that requires appropriate insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders. The bills would require Missouri healthcare policies to cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other treatments prescribed by an insured's treating physician. Both bills are identical and the language of the bill closely follows model legislation drafted by Autism Speaks earlier this year.
Read HB 2351 sponsored by Representative Sam Page here.

Read SB 1229 proposed by Senator Chris Koster here.

Date: 3/13/2008

Senator Chris Dodd Introduces the Disability Savings Act of 2008 at the Autism Speaks Hill Day 2008
(March 11, 2008) The Act is designed to encourage individuals with autism (and other disabilities) and their families to save for disability-related expenses.

(Washington, DC - March 11, 2008) Autism Speaks co-founders, Bob and Suzanne Wright, and participants in the organization's Hill Day 2008 joined Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) for the introduction of the Disability Savings Act (DSA) of 2008.  The DSA is designed to encourage individuals with autism (and other disabilities) and their families to save for disability-related expenses.  It is meant to supplement, rather than replace benefits provided by other sources (including Medicaid and private insurance).
“Senator Dodd was an original co-sponsor of the Combating Autism Act and has long been a champion for individuals with disabilities and their families,” said Bob Wright.  “We commend him for launching the legislative process to create these vitally important savings accounts, which will reduce an unreasonable financial burden for millions of families and end discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the federal tax code.  Parents can save, tax-free, to send their child to Harvard.  They should be able to save in the same way to help every child meet his or her full potential.” 
“This important legislation is designed to help individuals with disabilities live full and productive lives for all their years,” said Senator Dodd.  “It provides families with an important tool to save the money they need for their unique needs and provide for their children long after they are gone.” 
Read More 
 

Date: 3/11/2008

Autism Insurance Bill Introduced in Florida State Legislature
(March 7, 2008) Legislation has been introduced in Florida to require insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders.
(Florida - March 7, 2007) Legislation has been introduced in Florida to require insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders. Bills have been introduced by State Representative Ari Porth (D-96), House Bill 1291, and Senator Steven Geller (D-31), Senate Bill 2654. The bills would require Florida healthcare policies to cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other treatments prescribed by an insured's treating physician.

The Florida Session kicked off on March 4, 2008, and residents of that state will have a tight turnaround of less than 60 days to push this bill through to Governor Charlie Crist's desk for signature.
Read HB 1291 - Sponsored by FL Representative Ari Porth
Read SB 2654 - Sponsored by Senator Steven Geller

Date: 3/7/2008

Elizabeth Emken Appointed to Florida Task Force on Autism Spectrum Disorders
(March 7, 2008) Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced the creation of the Task Force on Autism Spectrum Disorders
On March 7, 2008, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced the creation of the Task Force on Autism Spectrum Disorders; Autism Speaks' Vice President of Government Affairs Elizabeth Emken has been appointed to the task force. The task force, made up of leaders in autism advocacy and treatment, health care practitioners, and family members of persons with autism, will work to address the growing health crisis that autism represents through coordinating efforts and setting a proactive agenda. The task force will submit a final report to the Governor by March 20, 2009.
Read More

Date: 3/7/2008

Insurance Bill Introduced in Connecticut State Legislature
(February 29, 2008) Connecticut Legislature introduces autism insurance reform bill
(CONNECTICUT - February 29, 2008) Connecticut is the latest state to introduce legislation which will amend insurance statutes to include coverage for autism. Proposed by State Representative Brian O'Connor (D-Clinton, Killingworth, Westbrook), Chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, HB-5696 requires all Connecticut healthcare policies to cover such therapies as habilitation care; psychiatric care; therapeutic care, such as speech and occupational therapy; Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and medications prescribed by a physician.

The policies would cover these treatments until the insured turns 26. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for March 6.
Read the Connecticut bill
View Coverage from NBC

Date: 2/29/2008

Autism Insurance Bill Introduced in Illinois State Legislature
(February 21, 2008) Illinois Senate introduces autism insurance reform bill

(ILLINOIS - February 21, 2008) Illinois has become the latest state to introduce autism insurance reform legislation. Illinois Senate bill 1900 was introduced this week in committee by Senator James DeLeo, and will include coverage for therapies such as applied behavioral analysis and other evidence-based, medically-necessary treatments. A lobbying day for parents and organizations in support of SB 1900 is planned for April 15th in Springfield, Ill.

Peter DiCianni, the father of a young daughter with autism, Lee Jorwic, the Autism Speaks Chapter Advocacy Chair in Illinois, and the father of an 18 year old son diagnosed with autism, and Christopher Kennedy of Autism Society of Illinois, a long time advocate of autism legislation in Illinois and the father of a daughter with autism, are working to build a coalition of autism organizations in Illinois to help move this bill forward. Watch for updates on what you can do to help pass SB 1900 in Illinois.

Read the Illinois bill

Date: 2/21/2008

Autism Insurance Bill Introduced in Mississippi State Legislature
(February 7, 2008) Mississippi House introduces autism insurance reform legislation

(MISSISSIPPI - February 7, 2008) Mississippi has become the latest state to introduce autism insurance reform legislation. House Bill 487 will require health insurance coverage, including coverage under the state and school employees health insurance plan, for autism spectrum disorders. Provisions of House Bill 487 will include coverage for therapies such as applied behavioral analysis and other evidence based, medically necessary treatments. Introduced in committee by Representative Noel Akins on January 30, 2008, the bill is already gaining significant traction in the House with over 40 cosponsors.

Congratulations to Nicole Boyd, Autism Speaks' Chapter Advocacy Chair for Mississippi for all of her hard work in spearheading this effort on behalf of her son and other children with autism in her state.

Click here to read the bill

Date: 2/7/2008

Autism Insurance Bill Introduced in Arizona State Legislature
(January 29, 2008) State Sen. Aguirre Introduces "Steven's Law"

(ARIZONA - January 29, 2008) On January 29, 2008, Arizona State Senator Amanda Aguirre introduced legislation that would disallow large group insurers from denying or refusing coverage to children who were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The required coverage would include the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and treatment that prescribed by the insured's treating medical doctor pursuant to a treatment plan.
Read the Press Release from the Arizona State Legislature

Date: 1/29/2008

Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the Role of Medicaid for Americans with Disabilities
(January 16, 2008) The House Committee on Energy and Commerce - Subcommittee on Health investigates Medicaid's role in the lives of individuals with disabilitie

(Washington, DC - January 16, 2008)  The House Committee on Energy and Commerce - Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Congressman Frank J. Pallone (NJ), held a hearing on Wednesday, January 16, 2008, investigating Medicaid's role in the lives of individuals with disabilities.

The hearing, entitled “Helping Families with Needed Care: Medicaid's Critical Role for Americans with Disabilities,” focused on the importance of community-based care, school-based care, home-based care, and long-term care for those in the Medicaid system. Also discussed were the attacks on Medicaid by the current Administration and the effect of various agency rules and regulations on the Medicaid population.

We thank Congressman Nathan Deal (R- GA) for submitting testimony on behalf of Autism Speaks.
Read Autism Speaks' submission to the Subcommittee (PDF)
Read the Press Release from the Committee
Read the full statement from Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell