Des Moines, IA (February 19, 2009) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for House File 1/Senate File 1, the autism insurance reform bill. The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for individuals up to the age of 21. The maximum benefit would be $36,000 per year.
Sponsored in the Iowa State House of Representatives by State Representative Ray S. Zirkelbach (D-31) and in the Senate by State Senator Daryl Beall (D-25), HF 1/SF 1 includes coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy.
We applaud and thank Representative Zirkelbach and Senator Beall for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Iowa State families, said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. Autism Speaks joins Iowas autism community in calling on the legislature to pass HF 1 and SF 1 and join the growing number of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism.
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.
Eight states Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas -- have enacted autism insurance reform legislation. Several other state legislatures will vote on similar legislation during the current session.