Autism Speaks Endorses 2009 Georgia Autism Insurance Reform Legislation

Atlanta, GA (February 18, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation'’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Senate Bill 161 and House Bill 426, also known the autism insurance reform bills.  The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  
Sponsored in the Georgia State House of Representatives by State Representative Katie Dempsey (13th district) and in the Senate by State Senator Johnny Grant (25th district), HB 426/SB 161 includes coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy.  Coverage for ABA would be subject to a maximum benefit of $55,000 per year.
“We applaud and thank Representative Dempsey and Senator Grant for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Georgia families,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations.  “Autism Speaks joins Georgia’s autism community in calling on the legislature to pass the autism insurance reform bills and join the growing number of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism.”
Most states do not require private insurance companies to cover even essential autism treatments and services.  In the absence of coverage, families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 per year.  In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children – essentially mortgaging their entire futures.
Eight states – Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas -- have enacted autism insurance reform legislation.  Several other state legislatures will vote on similar legislation during the current session.