Autism Speaks Endorses 2014 Hawaii Insurance Reform Bill

HONOLULU (January 15, 2014) -- Autism Speaks today endorsed SB.2054, the 2014 Hawaii autism insurance reform bill which, if enacted, would make Hawaii the 35th state to require many health plans to cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other therapies for autism.

Introduced by Senators Josh Green, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, Suzanne Chun Oakland and Russell Ruderman, the bill is similar to a measure that passed both houses of the Legislature last year, but then failed to clear conference committee. SB.2054 would require state-regulated health plans to cover up to $50,000 a year for the screening, diagnosis and evidence-based treatment of autism up to age 21.

 "“We commend Senators Green, Chun Oakland and Ruderman for keeping up the fight for the thousands of Hawaii families dealing with autism,"” said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. “"Autism Speaks is proud to join Hawaii'’s autism community in calling on the legislature to finish the job this year and make Hawaii the 35th state to deliver the healthcare coverage needed by children with autism."

In addition to ABA treatment, the bill would require coverage for autism-related psychiatric, psychological, pharmaceutical and therapeutic care, such as speech, occupational and physical therapy.

Hawaii is one of the few remaining states yet to require state-regulated health plans to cover essential autism treatments and services. Without coverage, families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost $50,000 or more per year. In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children, and in many cases face bankruptcy.

Minnesota, Oregon and the District of Columbia enacted reform laws last year; bills this year will be considered in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and other states.