NEW YORK (February 15, 2013) -- Autism Speaks endorsed legislation introduced in the Tennessee Senate and House that would require state-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Tennessee is one of just 18 states yet to enact autism insurance reform.
The Senate bill, SB.1286, is sponsored by Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) [left]; the House bill, HB.1265, is sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland). The 18 co-sponsors include Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, who serves also as Tennessee Lieutenant Governor.
The bills would require coverage for autism-related speech, occupational and physical therapy, as well as behavioral health treatment, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
"We commend Senator Tracy and Representative Brooks for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Tennessee families," said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks vice president of state government affairs. "Autism Speaks joins the Tennessee autism community in calling on the legislature to pass SB.1286 and HB.1265 to stop healthcare discrimination against children with autism."
Based on experience in states that have enacted insurance reform laws, Autism Speaks has found the impact of autism coverage on premiums averages 31 cents per member per month. After two years in operation, Missouri's law requiring coverage of autism benefits was found by the state to impact overall health care costs by 0.16 percent.
Of the 32 states that have enacted autism insurance reform, four--Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri and Virginia--neighbor Tennessee. Legislation has been introduced in Georgia and similar reform efforts are underway in North Carolina.