Columbus, OH (December 8, 2009) -- Autism Speaks today joined Ohio families in applauding the members of the State House for passing House Bill 8, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, including behavioral health treatments. The bill passed the Ohio House today in a vote of 57-39 and now heads to the State Senate for concurrence.
HB 8 is sponsored by Representative Ted Celeste (D-24) and Representative Nancy Garland (D-20) and will require insurance companies to provide coverage of autism therapies and behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. The bill was originally introduced last session and tirelessly championed by former Ohio State Representative Jon Peterson.
One amendment was approved on the floor today and added to the bill. This amendment added to HB 8 a $36,000 cap on coverage, review of treatment plan by the insurer every 6 months, a mandate that treatment be provided, or overseen by, a licensed, certified or registered provider, and delayed the implementation date to January 2011.
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.
"Passage of House Bill 8 by the Ohio House today is another significant victory in the national effort to secure insurance coverage of behavioral health treatments in all fifty states and provide families affected by autism with the help they so desperately need and deserve," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks Executive Vice President, Programs & Services. "We thank Representatives Celeste and Garland and their colleagues in the House for having the courage to put Ohios families and their needs first."
Ohio could become the sixteenth state to enact an autism insurance reform law. So far, fifteen states Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin -- have enacted this legislation. An amendment that requires coverage of behavioral health treatments has also been added to the health care reform bills currently moving through Congress.
Ohios families affected by autism are thrilled with the bi-partisan support on this important legislation, said Doug Krinsky, parent of a child with autism and one of Autism Speaks Ohio chapter advocacy chairs. We now move to the Senate with positive momentum in the hope and expectation of passage. I urge all families to join our efforts to ensure the ultimate enactment of autism insurance reform legislation in Ohio.