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Minnesota Makes It 33, Gov. Dayton Signs Autism Insurance Reform Bill

May 23, 2013

ST. PAUL  (May 23, 2013) -- Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation today making Minnesota the 33rd state to enact autism insurance reform, improving access to essential autism therapies, such as ABA, to 750,000 state residents. The signing was announced on the Governor's website. 

Sponsored by Rep. Kim Norton (DFL-Rochester), the measure applies to state-regulated large group health plans which will be required to cover speech, occupational, physical and behavioral therapy, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), up to age 18. State employees will be added no later than 2016.

The Dayton administration hopes to also extend coverage to the small group and individual markets through the health exchanges it creates under the Affordable Care Act.

"Minnesota is a national leader in providing quality health care at low costs," Dayton's office said in the announcement. "But health and human services are still the fastest growing parts of our budget, with costs rising 8.5 percent each year. We can do more to improve health and reduce costs. Today, Governor Dayton signed a bill (HF1233) that makes crucial reforms to deliver better services at a better price for taxpayers."The bill also includes co-pay relief for families covered under the TEFRA disabilities program and a $12 million early intervention program for children up to age 18 who are enrolled in the state's Medical Assistance (MA) program. The early intervention program will provide access to behavioral therapy, such as ABA, and will include training for providers in culturally appropriate techniques.

The provisions in Norton's bill were incorporated into HF.1233, the Omnibus Health and Human Services Finance Bill, which was passed by the legislature. The legislation became more urgent after a landmark 2001 court settlement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota expired in late 2011, stripping families of the state's only coverage starting last year.