NEW YORK, NY (March 14, 2011) -- Autism Speaks joined West Virginia families and other autism advocacy organizations today in applauding the members of the state legislature for their passage of House Bill 2693, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA). The bill was amended and passed back and forth in a volley between the House and Senate but passed right before the legislative deadline on Saturday night, March 12th. The bill now heads to Governor Earl Ray Tomblins desk to be signed into law.
Sponsored in the West Virginia House by Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer (District 44 - Monongalia), HB 2693 would end private insurance companies discrimination against children with autism by requiring coverage of evidence-based, medically-necessary therapies, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. HB 2693 includes a maximum benefit for ABA therapy of $30,000 annually for the first three consecutive years after diagnosis and a maximum benefit of $2,000 monthly thereafter until the individual reaches age 18. HB 2693 was supported through the Senate by Senator Evan H. Jenkins (District 5 - Cabell) and will go into effect on July 1 of this year when signed into law.
Autism Speaks applauds the members of the West Virginia legislature for passing HB 2693, which will extend a helping hand to 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 are grateful for the leadership of Delegate Fleischauer and Senator Jenkins on this issue and now call on Governor Tomblin to sign the bill into law, allowing West Virginia to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.
To date, twenty-four states Arizona, Arkansas, 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 have introduced similar legislation during the current 2011 session and a bill in Virginia awaits the governors signature before becoming law.
"It has truly been an honor to be a full participant in the legislative process that has brought such amazing change for West Virginia families of children with autism, said Earlene Sharp Anglin, Autism Speaks West Virginia State Advocacy Chair. The families did such an incredible job of making their needs and wishes known all throughout the process. Thank you so much to all of you and especially to Senator Evan Jenkins, my senator, who was an incredible champion for all our families all the way through."
"We are so appreciative of all of our legislators who voted in favor of HB 2693 and that we are now only one signature away from making this a reality for the children of West Virginia with autism who so badly need appropriate access to medical treatments and therapies, said Jill Scarbro-McLaury, lead volunteer with Mountaineer Autism Project. Enacting this legislation will additionally help us retain the bright, young behavior analysts that West Virginia has become so well known for educating instead of losing them to surrounding states that have already achieved this initiative."