NEW YORK, NY (January 27, 2011) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, today announced its support for Senate Bill 74, 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 Senate by Senator Johnny Ellis, SB 74 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. A House version of the bill, HB.79, is sponsored by Rep. Pete Peterson.
“We applaud and thank Senator Ellis for his leadership again this year on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Alaska’s families,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. “Autism Speaks joins Alaska’s autism community in calling on the legislature to pass SB.74 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.