NEW YORK, NY (July 9, 2008) -- Autism Speaks today commended Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell for signing into law the most comprehensive autism insurance bill in the nation. The new law provides $36,000 a year for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and other necessary treatments, and goes beyond many state insurance reform measures by mandating coverage up to age 21 with no lifetime cap. It also creates, for the first time under Pennsylvania law, an expedited appeals procedure for denied claims as a safeguard to ensure compliance by insurance providers. Private insurers will be required to provide coverage beginning in July 2009.
In addition, the legislation turns the existing state welfare program for autism into a statutory requirement, ensuring that those who receive government-provided services can continue to do so. It also allows for the development of a private sector delivery system with insurance reimbursement, offering families an alternative to coverage through Medicaid.
Autism Speaks also praised the elected officials whose support of this legislation was critical to its passage, including: original co-sponsors House Speaker Dennis OBrien and Senator Jane Orie; Rep. Nick Micozzie and Rep. Tony DeLuca, chairmen of the House Insurance Committee; Senator Don White, chairman, and Senator Mike Stack, minority chairman, of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee; and Senators Dominic Pileggi, Joseph Scarnati and Robert Mellow.
"This law will have a significant impact on Pennsylvania families ability to provide their children with the services they need and deserve, said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks vice president of government relations. Governor Rendell and Pennsylvanias legislators have sent a clear message that discriminatory practices by insurers against individuals with autism and their families must come to an end.
Autism insurance reform legislation has now been enacted in eight states across the country, with many others currently considering legislative action. Last week, Louisiana became the latest state to address the tremendous financial burden faced by families affected by autism when Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 958 into law.