MADISON, WI (February 19, 2009) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Senate Substitute Amendment 1 on Senate Bill 3.
his amendment would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). With parents and advocates, including Amy Masek and Nissan Bar-Lev of the group Autism Insurance Now, working on this legislation for the past several years in the state, the substitute amendment was offered on February 6 in the Wisconsin Senate by State Senator Judy Robson (D-15).
The substitute amendment includes coverage of intensive-level services, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an intensive evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy. The maximum benefits are capped through a tiered system, meaning that an insured individual with autism can receive $60,000 annually for up to four years of intensive-level services and can receive $30,000 annually thereafter for post-intensive-level services.
Since being amended, the SB 3 has been passed unanimously by 3 Senate Committees.
"We applaud and thank Senator Robson for her leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Washington State families," said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks Vice President of Government Relations. "Autism Speaks joins Wisconsins autism community in calling on the Senate to pass Substitute Amendment 1 to SB 3 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.