NEW YORK, NY (April 21, 2009) -- Autism Speaks today joined Nevada families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the State Assembly for passing Assembly Bill 162, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. The bill passed the Nevada Assembly today in a vote of 39-2 and now heads to the State Senate Commerce & Labor Committee for further action.
The Nevada bill requires insurers to cover up to $36,000 annually for a child with autism under the age of 18 (or under the age of 21 if enrolled in high school) specifically for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism. AB 162 was sponsored in the State Assembly by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall (D Las Vegas).
Assembly Bill 162 will change childrens lives, said Assemblyman Ohrenschall. By our actions today in the Nevada Assembly, we are changing the lives of our children for the better.
"Autism Speaks applauds the members of the Nevada State Assembly for their passing Assembly Bill 162 by an overwhelming majority and extending a helping hand to families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies," said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. "We now call on the members of the state Senate to follow suit and pass this bill as well, allowing Nevada to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism. "
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 services. Ten states Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. Twenty-six states have introduced bills this year.
"It is rare for the autism community to secure a win in the battles that we face on a daily basis, but today was most definitely a win for the families here in Nevada, said Ralph Toddre, Commissioner of the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders. The passage of AB 162 out of the Assembly today is a sure sign that the awareness of autism spectrum disorders and how they affect the families and children in our state is at an all time high."
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