Santa Fe, NM (February 3, 2009) Autism Speaks, the nations largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Senate Bill 39 and House Bill 155, also known as the autism insurance reform bills. The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). SB 39 would cover individuals up to the age of 19, or 22 if in high school, with a maximum benefit of $36,000 per year and a lifetime maximum benefit of $200,000. HB 155 would cover individuals up to the age of 18 with a maximum benefit of $50,000 per year and no lifetime cap.
Sponsored in the New Mexico State Senate by State Senator Clinton D. Harden (R-7) and in the House by Representative Joni Marie Gutierrez (D-33), the autism insurance reform bills include coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy.
We applaud and thank Senator Harden and Representative Gutierrez for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of New Mexico families, said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. Autism Speaks joins New Mexicos autism community in calling on the legislature to pass the autism insurance reform bills 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.