NEW YORK, NY (January 21, 2011) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Senate Bill 5059, also known as Shayan's Law, the autism insurance reform bill. The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis, testing, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Sponsored in the Washington State Senate by Senator Ed Murray (District 43), SB 5059 includes coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapy. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health & Long-Term Care, which will hold a hearing on January 24, 2011.
"We applaud and thank Senator Murray for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Washington State families," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. "Autism Speaks joins Washington's autism community in calling on the legislature to pass Shayan's Law and join the growing number of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism."
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.
To date, twenty-three states Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin have enacted autism insurance reform legislation. Several other state legislatures will introduce similar legislation during the current 2011 session.