Federal Panel Urges National Standard for Autism Coverage

Date: 
March 25, 2013

Today, the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) sent a unanimously signed letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. It urges her to set minimum federal standards of autism coverage for health plans as part of her department’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

In the letter, the IACC cited scientific evidence of the effectiveness of early intervention therapies – including but not limited to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

“It is critically important,” the panel wrote, “that this medical coverage be available to privately and publicly insured children, so a two-tiered system for autism care is not created.”

At present, roughly half of states have indicated they will include ABA therapy and other autism behavioral interventions in their “essential health benefits” categories under the Affordable Access to Care Act. Other states are likely to require little or no coverage of autism treatments.

The inconsistency among states is alarming, the IACC wrote. “If benchmark plans in all States do not provide robust and consistent coverage of autism-specific behavioral interventions, we are concerned that some families will be forced to migrate to find coverage, while others will not have access to treatments that can mitigate lifelong disability.”

“The IACC represents a diverse group of stakeholders speaking with a unified voice to urge our federal government to make sure that people with autism have access to behavioral health treatments that we know can greatly improve outcomes and quality of life,” says IACC member and Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geri Dawson, Ph.D. The committee includes scientists, self-advocates, clinicians and parents, as well as representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Department of Education.

Read the full IACC letter to Secretary Sebelius here. Add your voice to the IACC committee’s by tweeting Secretary Sebelius @Sebelius or leaving feedback for the Health and Human Services department here.