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Mass. Lawmakers Approve Medicaid Expansion, Tax-Free Savings Plan

BOSTON (July 31, 2014) -- The Massachusetts Legislature has sent Gov. Deval Patrick an omnibus autism bill that would expand Medicaid coverage up to age 21 and create tax-free savings for people with disabilities.  Massachusetts would expand benefits under its 2010 autism insurance reform law to the state's Medicaid program, under a bill before the Legislature.

Sponsored by Rep. Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill), the bill, H.4373, would require MassHealth to cover medically necessary treatments for autism, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) up to age 21. MassHealth is the state agency that manages Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Massachusetts.

The bill also would create a state version of the federal ABLE bill by allowing the creation of tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities to pay for education, housing, medical, transportation and other needs.

The bill also would create a permanent 35-member state autism commission whose public members would include representatives of various diabilities organizations, including Autism Speaks. In addition, the measure would create an autism endorsement for public school teachers.