HONOLULU (March 7, 2014) -- The Hawai'i Senate voted 24-1 for SB.2054, an autism insurance reform bill, and sent the measure to the House. The first hearing is scheduled Wednesday before the House Health Committee.
Introduced by Senators Josh Green, Suzanne Chun Oakland and Russell Ruderman, the bill would require state-regulated health plans to cover the screening, diagnosis and evidence-based treatment of autism up to age 21, including up to $50,000 for behavioral therapy. Lifetime benefits for behavioral health therapy, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), would be capped at $300,000.
The bill is similar to a measure that passed both houses of the Legislature last year, but then failed to clear conference committee. In addition to Autism Speaks, the measure is supported by the Hawaii Medical Association, the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, and other groups. Opposition has been raised from the Hawaii Medical Service Association and Hawaii Association of Health Plans.
In addition to behavioral health 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 16 remaining states yet to require state-regulated health plans to cover essential autism treatments and services.