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South Dakota Adds Consultant To Autism Study

July 14, 2014

(July 14, 2014) -- The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (DLR) has hired Health Management Associates to assist with a study on autism treatment and insurance. State agencies began the study in April in response to a bill enacted by the Legislature after the Senate refused to consider an autism insurance reform measure passed 57-12 by the House.

The completed study is to be presented to the Governor and the Legislature by November 15. It is being led by the DLR and the state Department of Human Services (DHS). 

“A critical part of the process will be considering the many points of view on this issue that exist in South Dakota,” said DHS Secretary Gloria Pearson. “We need to hear from families, advocacy groups, legislators, policy leaders and others affected by autism spectrum disorders.”

The study will explore the availability and certification of providers, medically accepted treatments and outcomes, and the costs and benefits of autism services for children.

“The state will also look at the impact of requiring insurance plans to cover the various services associated with autism spectrum disorder so policy makers can make informed decisions,” said DLR Secretary Marcia Hultman.

Based on experience gathered from the 37 states that now require certain private insurers to cover autism treatment, the cost impact has been found to average 31 cents per member per month, or roughly the cost of a 6-piece Chicken McNuggets meal per year. Missouri, in the latest of its annual reports assessing the impact of its 2010 law, found that autism coverage  accounted for 0.2 percent of total claims costs in the state.

Of the 37 states that have enacted reform, four border South Dakota, including Nebraska which passed its law earlier this year.