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USVI Legislature Approves Autism Insurance Reform

(April 28, 2014) -- The U.S. Virgin Islands Senate has unanimously approved an autism insurance reform bill and sent the measure to Governor John P. deJongh for his signature. If enacted, the US Territory would join 36 states and the District of Columbia which have enacted reform.

Based on legislation enacted in 2009 by Connecticut, the bill (30-0202) requires USVI-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including speech, occupational and physical therapy. Behavioral health treatment, including applied behavior analysis (ABA), would be covered up to age 15.

ABA coverage would be capped annually at $50,000 up to age 9, $35,000 for ages 9 through 12, and $25,000 for children aged 13 and 14.

The bill was introduced last September by Senators Nellie Riveria-O'Reilly, Clarence Payne and Kenneth Gittens.

"I think this is a wonderful day for the Senate and more importantly for our people," said Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone, following passage of the autism bill and other legislation. "From roads to retirees, healthcare items, making the right food available to people who may not otherwise have that opportunity, small businesses, construction, investment - we had an agenda that is right for the advancement and improvement of the quality of lives of our residents."