NEW YORK, NY (February 15, 2012) Autism Speaks, the nations largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for SB 283 and HB 345, which would bar large group health insurance plans in Alabama from refusing to cover the diagnosis and treatment of treatment of autism.
Families paying thousands of dollars a year in insurance premiums would gain coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Senate bill would provide coverage for children through age 9; the House bill would provide coverage through age 18.
Sponsored in the Alabama Senate by Senator Cam Ward and in the House by Rep. Mac McCutcheon, the bills include coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based autism therapy, for up to $50,000 a year. The bills would apply to large group health insurance plans regulated by the state of Alabama.
We applaud and thank Senator Ward and Rep. McCutcheon for their leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Alabama families, said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. Autism Speaks joins Alabamas autism community in calling on the legislature to pass this initiative and join the growing majority of states that have assured access to health care for children with autism.
Some 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.
A majority of states (29) representing 70 percent of the United States population, including Florida, have enacted autism insurance reform legislation. Similar bills are before legislatures in other states this year.