Governor Steve Beshear Signs Kentucky House Bill 159 Into Law

NEW YORK, NY (April 14, 2010) -- Autism Speaks joined Kentucky families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding Governor Steve Beshear today for signing the autism insurance reform bill, House Bill 159, into law. Kentucky is the seventeenth state to enact legislation which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies.
The new law stipulates that coverage for individuals in the large group and state employee market between the ages of one and seven will be subject to a maximum annual benefit of $50,000 and that coverage for individuals between the ages of seven and twenty-one will be subject to a maximum monthly benefit of $1,000. Individuals in the small group and individual market will be subject to a maximum monthly benefit of $1,000 regardless of age. HB 159, which was passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, was sponsored in the House by Representative Jeff Greer and helped through the Senate by Senators Tom Buford, Julie Denton, Brandon Smith, and Robert Stivers.
"This is a great day for the thousands of Kentucky families that had 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. “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 Kentucky's legislators and Governor Beshear for having the courage to put families and their needs first."
“In signing this much needed legislation, I am happy to say that this administration and this General Assembly are helping these families cope with this developmental disability by removing some of the treatment cost barriers that have kept these young people from getting the care they need,” said Governor Beshear.
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary treatment. In addition to Kentucky, sixteen states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin – have enacted autism insurance reform bills, while three more have been passed by state legislators and await enactment into law.
“Thanks to the dedication and courage of our state legislators and Governor, parents will now actually be able to receive a benefit for the premiums they pay every month to their insurance companies,” said Anne Gregory, Autism Speaks Kentucky Chapter Advocacy Chair and mother of a child with autism. “Families in Kentucky will no longer go broke trying to provide their children with the medically necessary, appropriate autism treatments they need and deserve.”
Pictured above (left to right): Janet Pope, autism advocate; Representative Jeff Greer; Anne Gregory, Autism Speaks Kentucky Chapter Advocacy Chair; Bart Baldwin