NEW YORK, NY (May 6, 2010) -- Autism Speaks yesterday joined New Hampshire families, the New Hampshire Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders, the Autism Society of New Hampshire, and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the State Senate for their passage of House Bill 569, also known as Connors Law, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. The House passed HB 569 last January. Reconciliation of the House and Senate versions is pending.
Connors Law requires that a medical professional submit a treatment plan detailing the course of therapy. To be eligible for coverage, ABA therapy must be provided by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or by someone working under the supervision of such a professional. The bill also includes a $36,000 annual cap on applied behavioral analysis (ABA) for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) birth to age 12, and $27,000 per year for youth 13 to 21. Insurance coverage for non ABA related therapies does not have any age limits or monetary caps placed on it.
"Autism Speaks applauds the members of the New Hampshire Senate for their passing of Connors law, thereby extending a helping hand to families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. "We now call on the legislature to pass the bill swiftly through reconciliation, allowing New Hampshire to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism."
Speaking on behalf of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Consumer Protection, which supported the bill, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-Exeter) noted that Connors Law would make treatment based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) a covered service for the first time in New Hampshire. Our committee heard moving testimony of the success of ABA in improving the function of children with autism in areas such as eating and speaking, and even in the reduction of self-harming behaviors, said Hassan.
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. Nineteen states Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin have passed similar autism insurance reform bills.
"This is a pivotal piece of legislation that will open the door to best-practice treatment for many children. said Kristin Murphy, mother of a child with autism and Autism Speaks New Hampshire Chapter Advocacy Chair. We are committed to continuing to work with other segments of the insurance market to make treatment universally available in New Hampshire."