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Autism Speaks Joins the Virginia Autism Community In Applauding House Members For Passing Autism Insurance Reform Legislation

NEW YORK, NY (February 2, 2011) -- Autism Speaks today joined Virginia families, the Virginia Autism Project, and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the House of Delegates for their passage of House Bill 2467, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA). The bill passed by a vote of 74 to 24.

HB 2467 was sponsored in the House by Delegates Tag Greason (District 32) and Tim Hugo (District 40) and received the support of Speaker William J. Howell. The bill will require insurance coverage of autism therapies for children between the ages of 2 and 6, which is a critical period for administering early intensive intervention therapies for a child with autism. A companion bill, Senate Bill 1062, sponsored by State Senator Janet Howell (District 32), is working its way through the Senate.

"“Autism Speaks applauds the members of the Virginia House for passing HB 2467, which will extend a helping hand to families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies,"” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. "“We are grateful for the leadership of Delegates Greason, Hugo and Speaker Howell on this issue and now call on the members of the Senate to follow suit and pass this bill as well, allowing Virginia to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.”"

"I am overjoyed by this historic step and am proud to be part of the team who worked so hard to get to this point,” said Delegate Greason. “But until this bill is signed into law, we must stay on top of the process every step of the way. Today we celebrate....tomorrow we start the process in the Senate and work as hard as we can to get the bill onto the Governor's desk."
“Early diagnosis and treatment for children with autism is very important to families coping with autism,” said Delegate Hugo. “Since the Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children, and 1 in 70 boys are affected by autism, our two bills will help improve the future of many children diagnosed with autism.

“Like so many, I commend the strong leadership of Delegates Greason and Hugo in the effort to provide identification, diagnosis and treatment to children affected by autism spectrum disorders,” said Speaker Howell. “Early diagnosis and treatment of this neurological disorder is the key to effective care and treatment for children with autism and their families. I’m also pleased that these House bills include provisions that take into account the impact on the bottom line of businesses and the state budget. A balanced approach like this makes sense.”

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.