Autism Speaks Applauds Nevada Legislature For Passing Autism Insurance Legislation

NEW YORK, NY (May 27, 2009) -- Autism Speaks this past weekend joined Nevada families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the State legislature for passing Assembly Bill 162, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. The bill now heads to Governor Jim Gibbon’s desk for signature into law.
The Nevada bill requires insurers to cover up to $36,000 annually for a child with autism under the age of 18 (or under the age of 21 if enrolled in high school) specifically for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism. AB 162 was sponsored in the State Assembly by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall (D – Las Vegas).

“"With the passage of this legislation, Nevada 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. “"Autism insurance reform has gained significant national momentum. 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.”"

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. Ten states – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. Twenty-six states have introduced bills this year.

“Leadership, and membership in both Houses worked very hard for this Bill, and their efforts are greatly appreciated, “said Ralph Toddre, Commissioner of the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders. “But most of all it was the parents, whose testimony and advocacy for their children is what gave us a voice that couldn’t be ignored! Thanks to the tireless work of families in Nevada, many children will have a real chance at a good, happy, and productive life.”