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Autism Speaks Applauds Wisconsin Legislature And Governor Jim Doyle For Enacting Autism Insurance Reform Through The Budget Bill

June 30, 2009


NEW YORK, NY (June 30, 2009) -- Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, joined the Wisconsin autism community to praise the State Legislature and Governor Jim Doyle for enacting autism insurance reform into law. A bill to bring about this reform was introduced in the legislature this year and then incorporated as a provision in the budget bill that was signed into law by the Governor yesterday. The autism insurance reform provision requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies. Wisconsin is now the fourteenth state in the country to enact comprehensive autism insurance reform.

The Wisconsin law requires insurers to provide coverage for intensive behavioral treatments, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, of at least $50,000 per year, as well as coverage of other non-intensive autism treatments of at least $25,000 per year. ABA therapy is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.

“This new Wisconsin law is another significant victory in the national effort to secure autism insurance coverage in all fifty states and provide families with the help they so desperately need and deserve,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks vice president of government relations. “We thank Wisconsin’s legislators and Governor Doyle for having the courage to put families and their needs first and we applaud the thousands of hardworking families across the state that stood up to fight for their children.”
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. Wisconsin is the sixth state to pass autism insurance reform this year, and joins thirteen other states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – that have enacted similar autism insurance reform bills.
“We are making sure that insurance companies do the right thing for autistic children and their families in Wisconsin,” said Governor Doyle in his budget address. The Governor had been a vocal supporter of this legislation from its introduction.

State Senator Judy Robson and State Representative Kim Hixson championed the autism insurance reform throughout the legislative process. The bill was helped throughout the process by the thousands of hardworking families in Wisconsin affected by autism and by organizations, such as Wisconsin Autism Insurance Now.

“Finally, children diagnosed with autism in Wisconsin will not be denied insurance coverage for proven treatments like Applied Behavior Analysis, speech and occupational therapies, said Sonja Bingen, who, along with her husband Bill, is an Autism Speaks Wisconsin chapter advocacy co-chair. “So many families from across the state put their fears aside in order to stand up and speak on behalf of children, like our son Joey, who cannot speak for themselves. With the help of our dedicated state legislators, our families were successful in bringing about change to a broken system and a better life for our children with autism.”