West Virginia Becomes 25th State To Enact Autism Reform Legislation
NEW YORK, NY (April 1, 2011) – Autism Speaks joined West Virginia families today in applauding Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for signing into law House Bill 2693. This new law requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA).
“I fully recognize the importance of this piece of legislation and the positive impact it will have for children with Autism and the relief it gives their parents,” Governor Tomblin said. “I am so pleased that West Virginia will be the 25th state to require autism related services be a part of insurance coverage available for families.
Sponsored in the West Virginia House by Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer (District 44 - Monongalia), the new law ends private insurance companies’ discrimination against children with autism by requiring coverage of evidence-based therapies, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. The new law includes a maximum benefit for ABA therapy of $30,000 annually for the first three consecutive years from the date treatment commences and a maximum benefit of $2,000 monthly thereafter until the individual reaches age 18. HB 2693 was supported through the Senate by Senator Evan H. Jenkins (District 5 - Cabell) and will go into effect on July 1 of this year.
“We thank Governor Tomblin for signing HB 2693 into law,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “This enactment allows West Virginia to join the growing number of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on individuals diagnosed with autism and their families. The West Virginia enactment is especially significant for our community because now half of the United States has ended discriminatory practices by the health insurance industry against children with autism.”
Half of all states do not require private insurance companies to cover even essential autism treatments and services. In the absence of coverage, families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 per year. In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children – essentially mortgaging their entire futures.
"Children are our most precious resource,” stated Senator Evan Jenkins. “This legislation has been a labor of love for me and many others to help guarantee that every child has the support and opportunity needed for a healthy start in life."
“We are most grateful for our legislative champions Delegate Fleischauer and Senator Jenkins. We also have tremendous respect and admiration for the many legislators and families who helped blaze the trail over the past several years by shining the spotlight on autism. We have had overwhelming support from the West Virginia Legislature and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin,” said Earlene Anglin, Autism Speaks West Virginia State Advocacy Chair. “This is a historic day for West Virginia, and for families living with autism, and I’m so proud of our elected officials for seeing this through.”
Governor Tomblin will host a public signing of the bill to kick off Autism Awareness Month at the Capitol on Friday, April 1, 2011.