Autism Speaks Applauds West Virginia House Members For Passing Autism Insurance Reform Legislation

NEW YORK, NY (February 11, 2011) -- Autism Speaks yesterday joined West Virginia families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the House for their passage of House Bill 2693, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA). The bill passed with only one dissent in a vote of 96 to 1 and has been referred to the Senate for consideration.
Sponsored in the West Virginia House by Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer (District 44 - Monongalia), HB 2693 would end private insurance companies’ discrimination against children with autism by requiring coverage of evidence-based, medically-necessary therapies, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. HB 2693 includes a maximum benefit for ABA therapy of $30,000 annually for the first three consecutive years after diagnosis and a maximum benefit of $2,000 monthly thereafter until the individual reaches age 18. A companion bill, Senate Bill 218, has been introduced in the State Senate by Senator Evan H. Jenkins (District 5 - Cabell) and Acting Senate President Jeffrey V. Kessler (District 2 - Marshall).
“Autism Speaks applauds the members of the West Virginia House for passing HB 2693, which will extend 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 are grateful for the leadership of Delegate Fleischauer on this issue and now call on the Senate to follow suit, allowing West Virginia to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.”
“Passage of this bill gives hope to thousands of West Virginia families whose children need access to ABA in order to live a productive life,” said Delegate Fleichauer. “The next step is to gain passage in the Senate and get the best deal we can for a combined version of the bill.”
To date, twenty-three states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin – have enacted autism insurance reform legislation. Several other state legislatures will introduce similar legislation during the current 2011 session.
"We are so appreciative of all of our Delegates who voted in favor of HB 2693 and that we are one step closer to making this a reality for the children of West Virginia with autism who so badly need appropriate access to medical treatments and therapies,” said Jill Scarbro-McLaury, Autism Speaks West Virginia Chapter Advocacy Chair and lead volunteer in this effort. “Passing this legislation would also help us retain the bright, young behavior analysts that West Virginia has become so well known for educating instead of losing them to surrounding states that have already achieved this initiative."