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Arkansas Becomes First State In 2011, 24th Overall To Enact Autism Insurance Reform

April 04, 2011

NEW YORK, NY (March 4, 2011) – Autism Speaks joined Arkansas families today in applauding Governor Mike Beebe for signing into law House Bill 1315, now Act 196. This new law requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA).
Sponsored in the Arkansas House by State Representative Uvalde Lindsey (District 88) and escorted through the Senate by Senator Mary Anne Salmon, Act 196 includes coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as ABA therapy. The law includes a maximum benefit for ABA therapy of up to $50,000 annually until the individual reaches age 18.
“We thank Governor Beebe for signing HB 1315 into law,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “This enactment allows Arkansas 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.”
Some 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.
“We are so grateful for our legislative champions, Representative Lindsey and Senator Salmon, and for the overwhelming support of the Arkansas Legislature and Governor Mike Beebe,” said Dianna Varady, Autism Speaks Arkansas State Advocacy Chair. “This is a historic day for Arkansas and for families living with autism, and I’m so proud of our elected officials for seeing this through.”
Governor Beebe will host a public signing of the bill this coming Tuesday, March 8, 2011.
In addition to Arkansas, twenty-three states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin – have enacted autism insurance reform legislation. Several other state legislatures are considering similar legislation during the current 2011 session.