NEW YORK, NY (June 9, 2010) Autism Speaks, the nations largest autism science and advocacy organization, today commended the New York State Senate for passing S. 7000B, which would require insurance companies to end discriminatory practices and provide coverage of evidence-based, medically-necessary behavioral autism therapies for New York's children. An Assembly companion bill (A. 10372a) must now pass through committee to proceed to the floor for a full vote. Twenty states have already enacted autism insurance reform measures, with bills in two other states Missouri and New Hampshire -- awaiting governors signatures.
The Senate bill co-sponsored by Senators Neil Breslin and Thomas Duane, as well as Charles Fuschillo, Jr. -- would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Such treatment would include interventions prescribed by a doctor that are evidence-based and clinically-proven. In addition to providing coverage for physical health problems that frequently occur with autism, such as sleep abnormalities, seizures and gastrointestinal problems, the bill would cover speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral health treatments (including Applied Behavior Analysis) and other treatments for individuals of any age who are affected by autism.
People often lament the political gridlock in Albany, but this legislation is an important reminder of what our elected officials can and will do to help New Yorks families, said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. Families here and around the country are literally going broke trying to give children the therapies they need and deserve to meet their full potential. Its time that we eliminate this unfair burden and end insurers blatant discrimination against children with autism in every state in America.
This legislation has the potential to be one of the most comprehensive autism insurance laws in the country, said Peter Bell, executive vice president of programs and services for Autism Speaks. It provides coverage for treatments for individuals with autism throughout their lifespan. Furthermore, since many national and regional companies are headquartered in New York, this legislation could extend to thousands of individuals across the country, thereby having a major impact on the national autism community.
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. ABA therapies alone may cost upward of $50,000 a year. The Assembly companion bill, A.10372a, introduced by Assemblyman Joe Morelle and cosponsored by Speaker Sheldon Silver, is scheduled to be heard this week by the Ways and Means Committee.