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Autism Speaks Joins The Nevada Autism Community In Denouncing Assemblyman Settelmeyer’'s Veiled Attempt To Dismantle Support For Autism Insurance Reform Bill

April 24, 2009

NEW YORK, NY (April 24, 2009)  -- This week, Autism Speaks -- the nation’'s largest autism advocacy organization -- joined with the Nevada autism community in applauding the members of the State Assembly for passing Assembly Bill 162, a bill requiring insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. The bill easily passed the Assembly in a 39-2 vote and now heads to the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee for further action.
However, a single assemblyman has unexpectedly decided to launch an effort to derail the bill’'s further progress, compelling Autism Speaks and other advocates to decry the legislator’'s tactics and motive.
Assemblyman James Settelmeyer released a statement on Wednesday entitled “All Children Deserve Autism Coverage.” It argues that because AB 162 does not cover all children within the state of Nevada  --– specifically, the children of state employees -- the bill does not deserve further support. Until voting yes on AB 162 on the floor of the Assembly on Tuesday, Assemblyman Settelmeyer had been vocal in his opposition to the bill, even voting against it in committee.
“"Assemblyman Settelmeyer knows that in this difficult fiscal climate the Nevada legislature is unable to include state employees in this legislation, which necessitated its amendment,"” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. "“As Assembly Settelmeyer is well aware, any attempt to amend AB 162 to add the state plan back in will kill the bill altogether. All Nevada families affected by autism lose in that scenario, but it is clear that his goal is not to help families. His attack on AB 162 is nothing more than a veiled attempt to derail the progress of the bill by confusing his Senate colleagues, betraying the Nevada autism community in the process.”"
"Assemblyman Settelmeyer claims he wants to see all children with autism, including the children of state employees, enjoy appropriate coverage for the insurance premiums that they pay – but nobody is buying the sincerity of his rhetoric,"” said Ralph Toddre, Commissioner of the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders.   "“The all or nothing approach he is now advocating is purely a political ploy.  If he truly wants to demonstrate genuine concern for Nevada’s families, he will recruit his Republican Senate counterparts to vote in favor of this bill and then introduce separate legislation at a later date amending the law to include state employees once the state’s economy has improved."
AB 162 requires insurers to cover up to $36,000 annually for a child with autism under the age of 18 (or under the age of 21 if enrolled in high school) specifically for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.  The bill was sponsored in the State Assembly by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall (D – Las Vegas).
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Autism Speaks Joins the Missouri Autism Community In Applauding State Senate Members for Passing Autism Insurance Legislation
(April 23, 2009) Missouri Senate Bill 167 Passed on Senate Floor

NEW YORK, NY (April 23, 2009)  -- Autism Speaks today joined Missouri families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the State Senate for passing Assembly Bill 167, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. The bill now heads to the State House for further action.
The Missouri Senate bill requires insurers to cover up to $55,000 annually for a child with autism under the age of 15 specifically for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.  SB 167 was sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Scott B. Rupp (R-2).
“Autism Speaks applauds the members of the Missouri State Senate for their passing Senate Bill 167 and extending a helping hand to families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. “We now call on the members of the state House to follow suit and pass their bill, House Bill 357 as well, allowing Missouri to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.”  
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services. Ten states – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. Twenty-six states have introduced bills this year.

Date: 4/23/2009

Autism Speaks Joins the Nevada Autism Community In Applauding State Assembly Members for Passing Autism Insurance Legislation
(April 21, 2009) Nevada Assembly Bill 162 Passes in Vote of 39 to 2

Nevada Assembly Bill 162 Passes in Vote of 39 to 2
NEW YORK, NY (April 21, 2009)  -- Autism Speaks today joined Nevada families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the State Assembly for passing Assembly Bill 162, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. The bill passed the Nevada Assembly today in a vote of 39-2 and now heads to the State Senate Commerce & Labor Committee for further action.
The Nevada bill requires insurers to cover up to $36,000 annually for a child with autism under the age of 18 (or under the age of 21 if enrolled in high school) specifically for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.  AB 162 was sponsored in the State Assembly by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall (D – Las Vegas).
“Assembly Bill 162 will change children’s lives,” said Assemblyman Ohrenschall. “By our actions today in the Nevada Assembly, we are changing the lives of our children for the better.”
“Autism Speaks applauds the members of the Nevada State Assembly for their passing Assembly Bill 162 by an overwhelming majority and extending a helping hand to families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. “We now call on the members of the state Senate to follow suit and pass this bill as well, allowing Nevada to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.”  
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services. Ten states – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. Twenty-six states have introduced bills this year.
"It is rare for the autism community to secure a win in the battles that we face on a daily basis, but today was most definitely a win for the families here in Nevada,” said Ralph Toddre, Commissioner of the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders. “The passage of AB 162 out of the Assembly today is a sure sign that the awareness of autism spectrum disorders and how they affect the families and children in our state is at an all time high."
 
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Date: 4/21/2009

Autism Speaks Joins Kansas Parents and Autism Advocates In Denouncing Insurance Industry Claims
(April 20, 2009) Coventry Insurance initiates a campaign of misinformation to prevent Kansas’ families’ access to healthcare coverage

Coventry Insurance initiates a campaign of misinformation to prevent Kansas’ families’ access to healthcare coverage
NEW YORK, NY (April 20, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today asked Kansas legislators to admonish Coventry Health Care of Kansas for its deceptive tactics and absurd claims that attempt to disparage legislation that would end private insurance companies’ long-standing practice of discrimination against children with autism, and to resolve to support House Bill 2367, also known as Kate’s Law.

A recent release put out by Coventry Health Care of Kansas Inc. to business owners in the state warned that passage of Kate’s Law “could force average premiums up as much as 2.5% to 3%”. However, the licensed Actuarial Consulting practice of Oliver Wyman, an international consulting firm, has put the actual increase at 0.76% per policy holder, far less than Coventry claims (view this report on www.AutismVotes.org). In releasing these numbers, Coventry provides no data and even dismisses their own industry’s findings. Specifically, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s (CAHI) March 2009 study found the following: “CAHI’s actuarial working team estimates that an autism mandate increases the cost of health insurance by about 1 percent”.

The Coventry release also alleges that the autism therapies that Kate’s Law seeks to require coverage for are educational in nature, rather than medical. Autism is a medical condition. It is diagnosed by a medical doctor, not a school principal. Kate’s Law will give Kansas families access to the medically-necessary, evidence-based autism treatments that their children need. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and ABA therapy are all treatments that are prescribed by licensed physicians or licensed psychologists for the treatment of autism. The obligation of the educational system is not to treat a disorder, but to accommodate the child with a disorder and facilitate their ability to learn in an educational environment.

“Promotion of these ridiculous estimates, even in the face of conflicting data from their own trade organization, is being used to tap into people’s fears and vulnerabilities,” said Elizabeth Emken, Vice President of Government Relations for Autism Speaks. “The forces that oppose access to healthcare coverage for these children will clearly go to any lengths, including spreading damaging misinformation, to win this battle.”

“Coventry Health Care of Kansas has knowingly misled legislators by choosing to ignore professional actuarial work, including the work of their own industry organization, CAHI. Misrepresentation and conjecture hurts families, shifts costs onto school systems, and encourages individual economic hardship – it doesn’t lead to real solutions,” added Emken.

To date, ten states – Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas -- have passed autism insurance reform legislation to cover essential autism treatments and services. Several other state legislatures will vote on similar legislation during the current session.
> Download a PDF of this release

Date: 4/20/2009

Autism Speaks Joins the Montana Autism Community In Applauding State Legislators for Passing Autism Insurance Legislation
(April 9, 2009) Montana Becomes the 10th State to Pass Autism Insurance Reform

Montana Becomes the 10th State to Pass Autism Insurance Reform

NEW YORK, NY (April 9, 2009) -- Autism Speaks today joined Montana families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the state’s legislators for passing Brandon’s Bill, Senate Bill 234, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. The bill passed the House today in a vote of 75-24, following the March 25th passage in the State Senate, and now heads to Governor Brian Schweitzer’s desk for signature into law.

The Montana bill requires insurers to cover up to $50,000 annually for a child with autism 8 years of age or younger and $20,000 annually for a child between the ages of 9 and 18. Coverage includes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.

In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services. Nine states – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. Twenty-six states have introduced bills this year.

“The passage of SB 243, Brandon's Bill, will ensure that health care insurance covers the much needed treatment for autism in Montana,” said State Senator Kim Gillan, the bill’s sponsor. “This legislation will give children diagnosed with autism access to treatment and open the door to leading productive lives. As a mother and state senator, I will consider this one of the highlights of my 13 year legislative career. This was a team effort and Autism Speaks played a key, support role in helping Montanans understand the importance of early intervention and treatment for autistic children.”

“With the passage of this legislation, Montana joins the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice president for Government Relations. “Autism insurance reform has gained significant national momentum. The passage of Brandon’s Bill comes just days after Governor Bill Richardson signed a similar bill into law in New Mexico.”

“For too long, Montana’s families have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for therapies their children needed,” said Laura Simonsen, Autism Speaks Montana Chapter Advocacy Chair and mother of Brandon for whom “Brandon’s Bill” is named. “Our heartfelt thanks goes out to the state legislators who worked so hard in the House and Senate to get this bill passed. This is truly an historic moment for families in our state.”

Brandon’s Bill, Senate Bill 234, was sponsored by State Senator Kim Gillan (D-24) in the Montana State Senate and championed in the State House by Representative Kendall Van Dyk (D-49).
> Download a PDF of this release

Date: 4/9/2009

Autism Speaks Applauds New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for Enacting Autism Insurance Reform Bill
(April 3, 2009) New Mexico Becomes Ninth State in the Nation with Comprehensive Autism Insurance Reform

New Mexico Becomes Ninth State in the Nation with Comprehensive Autism Insurance Reform
NEW YORK, NY (April 3, 2009) -- Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today joined the New Mexico autism community to praise New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for signing into law Senate Bill 39, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. The Governor signed the bill yesterday, in honor of World Autism Awareness day, making New Mexico the ninth state in the country to enact comprehensive autism insurance reform.
The New Mexico law requires insurers to cover up to $36,000 a year for treatments and therapies, including Applied Behavior Analysis therapy for children until age nineteen, or age twenty-two if the individual is enrolled in high school. It also sets a maximum lifetime coverage limit of $200,000. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism. The law specifies that there cannot be any limit put on the number of visits to an autism service provider and that the maximum per year benefit will be adjusted annually for inflation.
“So many New Mexican families with autistic children can’t afford to pay for therapy and medical services out of pocket -- this bill will help ease the costs for those dealing with autism spectrum disorder,” said Governor Richardson. “While most health insurance policies have significant limitations on treatment, New Mexico will now have a law in place that will give people living with autism, the benefits they deserve.”
"This is a great day for the thousands of New Mexico families who now know their children will finally get the treatments they need and deserve," said Elizabeth Emken, vice president of government relations. Legislatures across the country are introducing and passing bills that put an end to the discriminatory practices by insurance companies against children with an autism diagnosis. We thank New Mexico's legislators and Governor Richardson for having the courage to put families and their needs first."
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services. New Mexico joins eight other states – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – that have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. Twenty-six states have introduced bills this year, and New Mexico is the first to pass.
Senate Bill 39 was sponsored by State Senator Clinton D. Harden (R-7) in the New Mexico State Senate. A similar bill, House Bill 155, was introduced by State Representative Joni Marie Gutierrez (D-33).
> Download a copy of this release

Date: 4/3/2009

Autism Speaks Hails the Introduction of the Landmark Autism Treatment Acceleration Act
(April 2, 2009) Wide-Ranging Legislation Addresses Key Issues Facing the Autism Community, Including Services for Adults and Insurance Reform

Wide-Ranging Legislation Addresses Key Issues Facing the Autism Community, Including Services for Adults and Insurance Reform
NEW YORK, NY (April 2, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, today applauded the introduction of the groundbreaking Autism Treatment Acceleration Act (ATAA). Originally drafted by then-Senator Barack Obama and introduced by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Robert Casey (D-PA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), ATAA is comprehensive federal legislation that addresses several critical challenges facing the autism community, including increased funding for scientific research, treatment and services. The ATAA incorporates provisions from the Expanding the Promise of Individuals with Autism Act (EPIAA) originally proposed by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
A key section of the bill requires insurance companies to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASDs), including coverage of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy – a medically-necessary, evidence-based autism treatment – and assistive communication devices. In most states, insurers are currently allowed to specifically exclude coverage for these critical services, which can cost upward of $50,000 a year – well beyond the means of most families.
“Autism Speaks is proud to have worked closely with Senators Durbin and Casey on this legislation, which represents a remarkable leap forward in the federal government’s commitment to addressing the challenges faced by individuals with autism and their families,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks vice president of Government Relations. “The insurance reform section of the bill, in particular, will have an enormous impact by finally requiring insurers to cover therapies that are literally causing families across the country to go broke as they try to provide their children with the services they need and deserve.”
To help address the unique needs of adults with ASDs, the bill would create a demonstration project with one-year planning grants and multi-year implementation grants for the provision of service for adults with autism. These services would address important issues such as education and employment, housing, nutrition and wellness, social activities, and transportation and personal safety.
A National Network for Autism Spectrum Disorders Research and Services would be created to maximize existing autism treatment and service capacity and to strengthen linkages between autism research and services initiatives at the federal, regional, state, and local levels. The network would act to expedite the dissemination of critical data and evidence-based or promising practices. These initiatives are aimed at accelerating the dissemination and utilization of critical, new information, moving it from “bench to bedside” as quickly as possible.
“The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act would codify important commitments made by candidate and now-President Obama to support individuals with autism, their families and communities,” said Bob Wright, co-Founder of Autism Speaks. “Now it is incumbent on our Congressmembers and Senators to step up and support this legislation, which has the potential to dramatically and directly impact the millions of Americans whose lives have been affected by this disorder.”
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Date: 4/2/2009

Autism Speaks Endorses Oregon Autism Insurance Reform Bill
(March 31, 2009) HB 3000 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment

HB 3000 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment
Salem, OR (March 31, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for House Bill 3000, the autism insurance reform bill. The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for individuals up to the age of 21. The maximum benefit would be $36,000 per year.
Sponsored in the Oregon State House by State Representative Peter Buckley (D-5), HB 3000 includes coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy.
“We applaud and thank Representative Buckley for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Oregon families,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. “Autism Speaks joins Oregon’s autism community in calling on the legislature to pass HB 3000 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.
Download a copy of this release

Date: 3/31/2009

Autism Speaks Endorses Maine Autism Insurance Reform Bill
(March 28, 2009) LD 1198 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment

LD 1198 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment
 
 
Augusta, ME (March 28, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for LD 1198 (SP 446), the autism insurance reform bill. The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for individuals up to the age of 21.  The maximum benefit would be $36,000 per year.
Sponsored in the Maine State Senate by State Senator Peter Bowman (D-1), LD 1198 includes coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy.
“We applaud and thank Senator Bowman for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Maine families,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. “Autism Speaks joins Maine’s autism community in calling on the legislature to pass LD 1198 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.
Download a PDF of this release
 

Date: 3/28/2009

Autism Speaks Applauds Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) for Reintroducing the Helping HANDS for Autism Act
(March 25, 2009) Autism Speaks joined with other autism organizations today in praising Senator Robert Menendez for reintroducing the Helping HANDS for Autism Act.

Washington, DC (March 25, 2009) -- Autism Speaks today thanked Senator Robert Menendez for reintroducing the Helping HANDS for Autism Act.  This bill, previously introduced last year, contains three spearate provisions aimed at providing help to individuals and families affected by autism.
The first section will establish an "Autism Navigator" program to help families navigate throught the complex system of services.  The second second section seeks to put into place a standard curriculum for the training of first responders in assisting individuals with autism.  The third section will create a task force to oversee the establishment of a housing demonstration grant program for adults with autism.
“Each of the three titles included in this legislation offers an important opportunity to address an area of concern for families affected by Autism,” said Elizabeth Emken, Vice President of Government Relations for Autism Speaks. “Autism Speaks thanks Senator Menendez for his leadership in helping families face the challenges associated with autism.”

Date: 3/25/2009

Autism Speaks Joins the New Mexico Autism Community In Applauding State Legislators for Passing Autism Insurance Legislation
(March 20, 2009) New Mexico Becomes the 9th State to Pass Autism Insurance Reform

New Mexico Becomes the 9th State to Pass Autism Insurance Reform
NEW YORK, NY (March 20, 2009)  -- Autism Speaks today joined New Mexico families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the state’s legislators for passing Senate Bill 39, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies.  The bill passed the House today in a vote of 51-15, following unanimous passage in the State Senate, and now heads to Governor Bill Richardson’s desk for signature into law.
The New Mexico bill requires insurers to cover up to $36,000 a year for treatments and therapies, including Applied Behavior Analysis therapy for children until age nineteen, or age twenty-two if the individual is enrolled in high school. The bill also sets a maximum lifetime coverage limit of $200,000.  Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.  The law specifies that there cannot be any limit put on the number of visits to an autism service provider and that the maximum per year benefit will be adjusted annually for inflation.
"I am elated with the final passage of SB 39 today.  It truly was a win for the autism community of New Mexico and the heavy lifting was done by our families living with autism 24/7.  All I did was carry the bill," said State Senator Harden, "But this won't be my first entrance into this arena. I was thrilled to find out that the individuals who opposed the bill did so because it did not include insurance for the public sector.  I am excited and encouraged to have their support to expand this coverage during the session next year."
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services.  Eight states – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills.  Twenty-four states have introduced bills this year, and New Mexico is the first to pass.
“With the passage of this legislation, New Mexico joins the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice president for Government Relations.  “Autism insurance reform has gained significant national momentum.  Legislatures across the country are introducing and passing bills that put an end to the discriminatory practices by insurance companies against children with an autism diagnosis.”
The passage of this legislation was the result of a grassroots advocacy effort led by hundreds of committed families with the support of local and national advocacy organizations. 
“For too long, New Mexico’s families have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for therapies their children needed,” said Gay Finlayson, autism advocate and mother of two adults with autism. “It’s not everyday that the autism community gets a win in the fight to improve our children’s lives.  This is truly an historic moment for families in our state who worked so hard to get this bill passed.” 
Senate Bill 39 was sponsored by State Senator Clinton D. Harden (R-7) in the New Mexico State Senate.  A similar bill, House Bill 155, was introduced by State Representative Joni Marie Gutierrez (D-33).
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Date: 3/20/2009

Autism Speaks Endorses Alaska Autism Insurance Reform Bill
(March 19, 2009) House Bill 187 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment

House Bill 187 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment
Juneau, AK (March 19, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for House Bill 187, also known as 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).   The maximum benefit would be $36,000 per year.
Sponsored in the Alaska State House of Representatives by State Representative Pete Petersen (D-19) HB 187 includes coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy.
“We applaud and thank Representative Petersen for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Alaska families,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. “Autism Speaks joins Alaska’s autism community in calling on the legislature to pass HB 187 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.
Download a PDF of this release

Date: 3/19/2009

The Council for Affordable Health Insurance Puts Cost of Autism Insurance Coverage at About 1 Percent
(March 19, 2009) Report release by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI)

(March 19, 2009) -- A report just released by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI), an organization representing the insurance industry, indicates that the CAHI’s own actuarial  team estimates that an autism insurance reform mandate would only increase the cost of health insurance by about 1 percent.
Read the CAHI report

Date: 3/19/2009

Autism Speaks Endorses Arkansas Autism Insurance Reform Bill
(March 18, 2009) Senate Bill 913 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment.

Senate Bill 913 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment
Little Rock, AR (March 18, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Senate Bill 913, also known as 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 Arkansas State Senate by State Senator Mary Anne Salmon, SB 913 includes coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy.
“We applaud and thank Senator Salmon for her leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Arkansas families,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. “Autism Speaks joins Arkansas' autism community in calling on the legislature to pass SB 913 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.
Download a PDF of this release

Date: 3/18/2009

Autism Speaks Endorses Colorado Autism Insurance Reform Bill
(March 18, 2009) Senate Bill 09-244 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment.

Senate Bill 09-244 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment
Denver, CO (March 18, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Senate Bill 09-244, also known as 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 Senate by State Senator Brandon Shaffer (D-17), SB 09-244 includes coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy. 
“We applaud and thank Senator Shaffer for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Colorado families,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. “Autism Speaks joins Colorado’s autism community in calling on the legislature to pass SB 09-244 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.
Download a PDF of this release

Date: 3/18/2009

Autism Speaks Joins Georgia Families in Praising Senate for Unanimously Approving Study Committee of Insurance Issue
(March 12, 2009) - Ava’s Law Remains Necessary to Change Insurance Law and End Healthcare Discrimination Against Children with Autism

Ava’s Law Remains Necessary to Change Insurance Law and End Healthcare Discrimination Against Children with Autism
 
ATLANTA, GA (March 12, 2009) -- Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today joined with families in Georgia to applaud State Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams (R-19) in obtaining a commitment from the Senate to establish a committee to study Ava’s Law, Senate Bill 161.This committee will be charged with examining the autism insurance reform issue and developing ways the state legislature can stop discrimination by insurance companies of Georgia’s children with autism.  Senator Williams was inspired to get involved in the issue of autism insurance reform by his four year old niece Ava, who has autism.  The Senator worked tirelessly as a cosponsor of Ava’s Law, and helped shepherd the bill through several committees.
 
On floor of the Senate this afternoon, Senator Williams delivered a rousing speech, suggesting that rather than attach meaningless amendments, that would serve to cripple SB 161, that the Senate table the issue for further review and commit to passing a stronger version of the bill in the 2010 Session.  The Senate erupted in a standing ovation of support. 
 
“While passing Ava’s Law to provide families with immediate relief and children with effective coverage this year would have been preferable, we are encouraged that the Georgia Legislature has committed to take this issue seriously and conduct a further review to solve a very real problem that families all over this nation are forced to deal with on a daily basis with regard to the medical care and treatment of their children with autism,” stated Elizabeth Emken, VP of Government Relations for Autism Speaks.  “We greatly appreciate the leadership demonstrated by Senator Williams, as well as Senator Johnny Grant, the author of Ava’s Law.”
The intent of Ava’s Law is to require private health insurance companies to provide coverage for medically necessary, evidence-based treatments and therapies for children with autism as prescribed by their treating physician, including coverage for applied behavioral analysis therapy. To date, eight states – Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas -- have enacted autism insurance legislative reform that requires insurers to cover ABA therapies, which typically cost upward of $50,000 a year – a cost well beyond the means of most families.
 
“I would like to thank advocates statewide for taking the time to work so diligently on Ava’s Law. I especially thank advocates for making calls over the last few days to Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who listened to our pleas and released the bill out of the Rules Committee, sending it to the Senate floor for a vote,” said Bill Jones, Georgia Chapter Advocacy Co-Chair for Autism Speaks.  “Autism advocates in Georgia succeeded in bringing the issue of autism insurance reform to the forefront and to the attention of members of the Georgia State Assembly.  Rest assured that we will be back next session with even more voices to get Ava’s Law passed!”
Autism Speaks thanks the primary co-sponsors of SB 161 for championing the bill at every turn which include: Senator Johnny Grant (25th District – Milledgeville), Senator Tommie Williams (19th District – Lyons), Senator Eric Johnson (1st District – Savannah), Senator Don Thomas (5h District – Dalton), Senator Bill Cowsert (46th District – Athens) and Senator Dan Weber (40th District – Dunwoody).

Date: 3/12/2009

Autism Speaks Joins Georgia Parents and Autism Advocates in Denouncing Georgia Chamber's "Trillion" Dollar Claim
(March 10, 2009) Georgia Chamber of Commerce initiates a campaign of lies and smears to prevent Georgia’s families’ access to healthcare coverage.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce initiates a campaign of lies and smears to prevent Georgia’s families’ access to healthcare coverage
ATLANTA, GA (March 10, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, today has asked Georgia legislators to admonish the Georgia Chamber of Commerce for their vindictive anti-family public campaign and to reject their absurd claim that autism insurance reform legislation, SB161 and HB426, will cost an “estimated $3.9 trillion a year annually”.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce in a statement to Georgia’s state House Insurance Committee, warned legislators that the cost for insuring children with autism could top more than a trillion dollars. Licensed actuaries have put the actual cost at $21.20 per policy holder.
“A trillion, billion, million dollars—who are they kidding? These amateurish calculations are being thrown around to prey upon people’s fears and vulnerabilities, when the Chamber should instead be focusing on Georgia’s families, and their own membership, who are living with autism and facing insurmountable medical expenses,” said Elizabeth Emken, Vice President of Government Relations for Autism Speaks. “1 in 150 children are diagnosed with autism, in Georgia and across the country. The forces that oppose access to healthcare coverage will clearly go to any lengths, churning out bold-faced lies and damaging misinformation with no remorse or thought.”
Autism Speaks has released an actuarial study (www.autismvotes.org) developed by the Actuarial Consulting practice of Oliver Wyman, an international consulting firm, that has developed a model to estimate the costs associated with state laws addressing coverage for the treatments of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Based on this analysis, the Georgia legislation would only increase insurance premiums by 0.63% and provides families with medically necessary coverage of ABA and other evidenced-based treatments for ASDs.
“The Georgia Chamber has knowingly misled legislators by choosing to ignore professional actuarial work, and has instead adopted the same spurious methods that were recently used in Oklahoma and are now being challenged in the courts. Flawed studies and conjecture hurt families, shifts costs onto school systems, and encourages individual economic hardship, as opposed to finding solutions, “added Emken.
Eight states – Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas -- have enacted autism insurance reform legislation to cover 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. Several other state legislatures will vote on similar legislation during the current session.

Date: 3/10/2009

Autism Speaks Endorses Connecticut Autism Insurance Reform Bill
(March 9, 2009) Committee Bill 301 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment

Committee Bill 301 Would End Health Care Discrimination Against Children with Autism by Requiring Coverage of Diagnosis and Treatment 
Hartford, CT (March 9, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Committee Bill 301, also known as 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 Connecticut State Senate by State Senator Martin M. Looney and in the State House by State Representative Christopher G. Donovan, CB 301 includes coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy. 
“We applaud and thank Senator Looney and Representative Donovan for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Connecticut families,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. “Autism Speaks joins Connecticut's autism community in calling on the legislature to pass CB 301 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.