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Autism Speaks Applauds Kansas State Legislature for Passage Of Autism Insurance Coverage For State Employee Health Plan But Pledges To Keep Working To Expand Coverage

March 31, 2010

NEW YORK, NY (March 31, 2010) -- Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, today pledged to continue the battle to end insurers’ discrimination against individuals with autism in Kansas. While applauding the members of the House for their passage of the House Bill 2160, which requires the state health insurance plan to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis, for state employees, the bill still falls short of ending insurance discrimination against all individuals with autism.
The final bill includes a annual cap on treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that are enrolled in the health insurance plan for state employees of $36,000 up to age 7 and $27,000 between ages 7 and 19. 97,500 people are enrolled in the Kansas state employee health plan. HB 2160 now heads to the Governor’s office for signature into law.
“Autism Speaks appreciates the members of the Kansas House passing HB 2160, which will extend a helping hand to the families of state employees. Our hope is that this pilot project will create a solid foundation from which to expand coverage in the next legislative session to the greater population of families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “We call on Governor Parkinson to support this bill, allowing Kansas to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.”
The original bill (Kate’s Law/ Senate Bill 12) was sponsored by the Legislative Educational Planning Committee (LEPC) and was helped through the legislature by Senator Tim Owens, but final passage of the bill is due to the determined work of parents and advocates in the Kansas autism community.
"This was an important first step in providing families with appropriate access to evidence based, medically necessary treatments that children with autism need,” said Senator Owens. “There is still work to do, but passage of this bill opens the door. We are resolved to come back again next year to continue this fight until all of Kansas's children have appropriate access and care."
“Advocates from throughout Kansas worked tirelessly and with this passage their voices are heard,” said Mike Wasmer, Autism Speaks Kansas Chapter Advocacy Chair and President of the Kansas Coalition for Autism Legislation (KCAL). “This is not the end, but rather the start of getting autism treatment to all in need in the state of Kansas.”
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary treatment. Fifteen states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills.