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Autism Speaks Applauds Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell for Enacting Autism Insurance Reform Bill

NEW YORK, NY (June 10, 2009) -- Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today joined the Connecticut autism community to praise Governor M. Jodi Rell for signing into law Senate Bill 301, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. Connecticut is now the thirteenth state in the country to enact comprehensive autism insurance reform.

The Connecticut law requires insurers to provide coverage for behavioral treatments, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, of up to $50,000 for a child who is less than nine years of age, $35,000 for a child who is at least nine years of age and less than thirteen years of age, and $25,000 for a child who is at least thirteen years of age and less than fifteen years of age. ABA therapy is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.

“This new Connecticut law is another significant victory in the national effort to secure autism insurance coverage in all fifty states and provide families with the help they so desperately need and deserve,” said Bob Wright, Autism Speaks co-founder and Fairfield, CT, resident. “We thank Connecticut’s legislators and Governor Rell for having the courage to put families and their needs first.”

“Legislatures across the country are introducing and passing bills that put an end to the discriminatory practices by insurance companies against children with an autism diagnosis,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks vice president of government relations. “We must continue to fight until every child has access to medically necessary autism therapies and families are no longer forced to mortgage their futures.”

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. Connecticut is the fifth state to pass autism insurance reform this year, and joins twelve other states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – that have passed similar autism insurance reform bills.

Senate Bill 301 was sponsored by State Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-11) and State Speaker of the House Christopher G. Donovan (D-84).

"We know that aggressive treatment and early intervention are critical to enable autistic children to reach their full potential,” said Senate Majority Leader Looney. “This initiative also helps families coping with autism by preventing them from being financially devastated by out of pocket costs of providing effective care."

“This bill will provide many Connecticut families who have children with autism spectrum disorders with access to life-changing treatments,” said House Speaker Donovan. "I am so pleased that the Governor had the wisdom to recognize its importance and make it the law."

The bill was helped throughout the process by the thousands of hardworking families in Connecticut affected by autism.

"The lives of families with autism will forever be changed by this law," said Shannon Knall, Autism Speaks Connecticut chapter advocacy chair. "Our families have spoken and our legislators on both sides of the aisle have allowed our voices to be heard. We are so grateful."