TRENTON, NJ (May 18, 2009) -- Autism Speaks Co-founder Bob Wright today testified before the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee alongside Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr., parents of children with autism and other autism advocates in support of the state's autism insurance reform bill.
The bill (A-2238/S-1651), which is sponsored by Speaker Roberts, Assemblywoman Joan Voss and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto in the Assembly and Senator Joseph Vitale and Senator Loretta Weinberg in the Senate, would end private insurance companies discrimination against children with autism by requiring coverage of medically necessary autism treatments, including evidence-based behavioral interventions. The bill was moved out of both committees and will be voted on by the full Assembly on Thursday. The Senate bill now moves to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for review before being considered by the full Senate.
Imagine the outrage if insurance companies refused to cover necessary treatments for children with cancer or diabetes, said Wright in his testimony. That is exactly what is happening with autism, and it must come to an end right now.
Added Wright, Families are taking out second mortgages, parents are taking on second jobs, and siblings college accounts are being sacrificed. These families know that starting intensive behavioral therapies, ideally before the age of three, offers a child with autism the best chance to meet his or her full potential and can actually reduce the services they will need later in life. Its not only the right thing to do, its also the fiscally smart thing to do over the long term.
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.
Pictured above 1: Autism Speaks Co-Founder Bob Wright testifies before the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee in support of A. 2238
Pictured above 2: Autism Speaks Co-Founder Bob Wright speaks with New Jersey Assembly Speaker, and sponsor of A. 2238, Joseph J. Roberts Jr.
Pictured above 3: Assemblywoman Joan Voss, sponsor of A. 2238, speaks in support of the bill.