NEW YORK (January 24, 2013) -- Autism Speaks today endorsed LB-505, a new autism insurance reform bill, which would bar state-regulated health plans in Nebraska from refusing to cover the diagnosis and treatment of treatment of autism. Nebraska is now just one of 18 states that has yet to enact reform through legislation.
Sponsored by state Senator Colby Coash (right), the bill would require up to $70,000 a year in coverage for behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, for the first three years of treatment. The limit would be $20,000 annually thereafter until the age of 21.
Families paying thousands of dollars a year in insurance premiums would gain coverage for the screening, diagnosis, testing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for individuals up to the age of 21. During the past year, the reported incidence of autism has risen from 1 in every 110 American children to 1 in 88; a more recent South Korea study showed a 1 in 38 prevalence rate.
"We commend Senator Coash for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Nebraska families," said Mike Wasmer, Autism Speaks' associate director of state government affairs. "Autism Speaks joins the state's autism community in calling on the Senate to pass LB-505 so that Nebraska children can qualify for the same coverage as their peers from Alaska to Florida."
In the absence of coverage, families are forced to pay what they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 or more per year. In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children essentially mortgaging their entire futures.