NEW YORK, NY (June 9, 2011) Autism Speaks, the nations largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for a pair of newly introduced bipartisan bills (SB 414/SB 415) which would reform autism insurance coverage in Michigan. The legislation would require private health insurance companies regulated by Michigan law to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD.)
Introduced in the Michigan Senate, the bills include coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based autism therapy, up to the age of 18 and a maximum of $50,000. Sen. Mike Green (R-31,) is the prime sponsor of SB-414; Sen. Tupac Hunter (D-5,) is the prime sponsor of SB-415.
We applaud and thank Senators Green and Hunter for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Michigan families, said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. Autism Speaks joins Michigans autism community in calling on the legislature to pass these bills and join the 26 other states that have ended healthcare discrimination against individuals with autism.
This bill benefits families and individuals dealing with the challenge of autism, getting them the help and medical support that they desperately need, Green said. Proper treatment early-on will improve their quality of life and independence, lowering the requirement for long-term services and full-time care, a more expensive option often funded by taxpayer dollars.
We are pleased that the Senate is taking up this critical issue, said David Meador, chief financial officer of DTE Energy and co-founder of the Autism Alliance of Michigan. This is simple legislation that provides essential medical therapies for a small cost and will save $14 billion over these children's lives. This legislation also will provide jobs and provide schools substantial savings. We encourage the Senate to move this issue rapidly.
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.
Autism insurance reform legislation has been enacted in 26 states, including Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. So far in 2011, bills have been signed into law in Arkansas, Virginia and West Virginia and similar reform measures are pending in 11 other states.