NEW YORK, NY (January 10, 2011) Autism Speaks, the nations largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for House Bill 2214/Senate Bill 555, the autism insurance reform bill. The announcement marks Autism Speaks first state autism insurance reform bill endorsement of the 2011 legislative session and a continuation of the organizations three year effort to end insurance discrimination against individuals with autism. The Oregon legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Sponsored in the Oregon State House of Representatives by State Representatives Peter Buckley (District 5) and Jim Thompson (District 23) and in the Senate by State Senators Chris Edwards (District 7) and Suzanne Bonamici (District 17), HB 2214/SB 555 includes coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy. The bill also requires coverage of augmentative communication devices and other assistive technology devices.
We applaud and thank Representatives Buckley and Thompson and Senators Edwards and Bonamici for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Oregon families, said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. Autism Speaks joins Oregons autism community in calling on the legislature to pass HB 2214/SB 555 and join the growing number of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism.
Most 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.
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 will introduce similar legislation during the current 2011 session.