NEW YORK, NY (January 27, 2011) Autism Speaks, the nations largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for House Bill 79, 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 Alaska State House by State Representative Pete Petersen, HB 79 includes coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy, for individuals with autism under the age of 21. HB 79 has been referred to the House Health & Social Services Committee, which may hear the bill next month.
We applaud and thank Representative Petersen for his leadership again this year on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Alaskas families, said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. Autism Speaks joins Alaskas autism community in calling on the legislature to pass HB 79 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.