Maine Expansion Bill Advances

AUGUSTA (February 5, 2014) -- The Maine Legislature's Joint Committee on Insurance and Financial Services yesterday voted 7-4 for a bill that would expand benefits under the state's 2010 autism insurance reform law.

Sponsored by Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec), the bill, LD.347, originally would have raised the age of eligibilty for benefits from 5 under current law to 21. The committee amended the bill to raise the age to 10.

It goes next to the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.

The current Maine law took effect in 2011 and requires state-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism through age 5. The coverage includes speech, occupational and physical therapy, as well as behavioral health treatment, such as ABA, up to $36,000 per year.

Maine was the 16th of the current 34 states to enact autism insurance reform. Three other states--Vermont, Louisiana and Texas (twice)--have amended their original laws to raise the age cap.