NEW YORK, NY (February 14, 2011) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Maryland Senate Bill 759/House Bill 783, the autism insurance reform bill, also known as the Coverage of Autism Spectrum Disorders bill. The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis, testing, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Sponsored in the Maryland Senate by Senator Katherine Klausmeier (District 8) and in the House by Delegate Kirill Reznik (District 39), SB 759/HB 783 includes coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy. The Senate bill was introduced on February 4th and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The House bill was introduced on February 10th and has been referred to the House Health Government Operations Committee.
We applaud and thank Senator Klausmeier and Delegate Reznik for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Maryland families, said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. Autism Speaks joins Marylands autism community in calling on the legislature to pass SB 759/HB 783 and join the growing number of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism.
Diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorders are growing exponentially and parents of kids diagnosed are struggling to meet the medical needs of their children, with many going bankrupt, losing their homes, and moving out of state, all the while paying for health insurance that does nothing for the biggest medical problem they face, said Delegate Reznik. This legislation is necessary to provide for health insurance to step up and provide coverage for treatment. We are at a crossroads where either we begin paying for these treatments or face mounting problems in the future.
Many 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.