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Steinberg Extension Bill Advances in Senate

SACRAMENTO (May 2, 2013) -- The California Senate Health Committee voted unanimously to release  (SB-126), a bill that would extend the state's autism insurance reform law to 2019. Sponsored by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the bill goes next to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Steinberg sponsored the existing 2011 law which is due to expire in mid-2014.

The law requires state-regulated health plans to cover behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, consistent with other benefits covered under their policies. Insurers are also required to maintain an "adequate" network of ABA providers.

Responding to widespread complaints of delays and denials of claims under the new law, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued emergency regulations in March preventing state-regulated health insurers from limiting visits or costs for ABA treatment for autism. The order impacts an estimated 42,000 California children. 

The California Health Benefits Review Program (CHBRP) concluded that SB.126 would have no "measurable cost impact."