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Autism Speaks Endorses 2010 New York Legislation That Would End Insurance Discrimination Against Individuals With Autism

NEW YORK, NY (March 22, 2010) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, today endorsed A.10372, which would require insurance companies to end discriminatory practices and provide coverage of evidence-based, clinically-proven autism therapies for many of New York’s residents living with autism and potentially thousands more. A.10372 is a companion bill of S.7000A, which was introduced in the Senate earlier this month. Fifteen states have already enacted autism insurance reform measures, with legislation pending in approximately two dozen additional states.
The bill – sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, Chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee, with the key co-sponsorship of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, as well as Assemblymembers Harvey Weisenberg, Catherine Nolan, Felix Ortiz and Mark Schroeder– 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 other treatments such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral health treatments (including applied behavior analysis) for individuals of any age that are affected by autism.
“Parents across New York and around the country are paying for health insurance that denies them the services they need the most,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “Families are literally going broke trying to give children the therapies they need and deserve to meet their full potential. It’s time that we eliminate this unfair burden and end insurers’ blatant discrimination against children with autism.”
“Like its companion bill in the Senate, A.10372 has the potential to be one of the most comprehensive autism insurance laws in the country,” said Peter Bell, executive vice president of programs & 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 has the potential to extend to thousands of individuals across the country thereby having a major impact on the national autism community.”
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.