Autism Speaks Endorses 2011 Hawaii Autism Insurance Reform Bill

NEW YORK, NY (February 3, 2011) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Senate Bill 744, the autism insurance reform bill. The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis, testing, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Sponsored in the Hawaii Senate by State Senators Will Espero (District 20) and Maile S. L. Shimabukuro (District 21), SB 744 includes coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy, for individuals under the age of twenty-six. Coverage under SB 744 is subject to a annual maximum benefit of $50,000, but there is no limit on the number of visits to a service provider.
“We applaud and thank Senators Espero and Shimabukuro for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Hawaii families,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. “Autism Speaks joins Hawaii’s autism community in calling on the legislature to pass SB 744 and join the growing number of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism.”
Many 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.
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.