NY Legislature Removes Hurdle to ABA Coverage

ALBANY (June 17, 2013) -- Autism Speaks and the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis (NYSABA) today commended the New York Legislature for voting to eliminate a hurdle that has kept families from accessing ABA care as promised under the state's 2011 autism insurance reform law. The bill goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his consideration. 

The bill will create a New York state license for applied behavior analysis (ABA) practitioners that the Board of Regents demanded after the 2011 law was enacted. Without state licensure, ABA providers could not be reimbursed for their services under the law, which covers state-regulated health benefit plans.

The legislation was sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle (D-Irondequoit) and Senator Chuck Fuschillo (R-Merrick), the same two lawmakers who championed the 2011 autism insurance reform law.

“Autism Speaks commends Assemblyman Morelle for delivering once again for New York’s autism community,” said Judith Ursitti, Autism Speaks’ director for state government affairs. “The passage of this licensure bill will fulfill the promise of New York’s autism insurance reform law for thousands of families and Assemblyman Morelle made it happen. We thank Assemblyman Morelle for going the extra mile for our community.”

Ursitti said, “New York’s autism community has come to depend on Senator Chuck Fuschillo for providing the help families need. Autism Speaks thanks Senator Fuschillo for his instrumental role in getting this licensure bill through the Senate. Chuck Fuschillo would not rest until New York families received the access to care they were promised under the autism insurance reform law.”

NYSABA President Deborah Napolitano said her organization applauded "Assemblyman Morelle and Senator Fuschillo for their continued and unwavering support to ensure that individuals diagnosed with autism have access to treatment and appropriately credentialed providers. This bill protects consumers and provides access. Assemblyman Morelle and Senator Fuschillo deserve high praise for striking this balance."

The bills, S.4862 and A.6963, will create a state licensing process for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). A new seven-member State Board for Applied Behavior Analysis will be appointed by the Board of Regents and include three licensed behavior analysts, one certified behavior analyst assistant, one licensed psychologist and two public members.

When the licensure demand was finalized in January, Autism Speaks accused state regulators of ignoring the 2011 law which provided that existing national certification for ABA practitioners would be sufficient. The Autism Speaks Legal Resource Center became involved in the dispute, promising to "use all available means at its disposal" to resolve the issue.