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Autism Speaks Endorses Minnesota Insurance Reform Bill

February 11, 2013

NEW YORK (February 11, 2013) -- Autism Speaks today endorsed HF.181, sponsored by Rep. Kim Norton (DFL-Rochester), which would require state-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Governor Mark Dayton pledged to engage on autism insurance reform earlier this year following the release of a series of recommendations by the state's Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force.

Norton's bill cleared the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee in late January and is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday (February 13) before the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee.

“"We commend Representative Norton for her leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of Minnesota families,"” said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. “"Autism Speaks joins Minnesota's autism community in calling on the legislature to pass HF.181 and join the growing majority of states that have ended healthcare discrimination against children with autism."”

Norton's bill would require coverage for intensive behavior therapy, including applied behavior analysis (ABA), intensive early intervention behavior therapy, intensive behavior intervention and Lovaas therapy. The bill also would require coverage of autism-related speech, occupational and physical therapy and pharmaceutical benefits. The bill sets no caps on visits, age or financial benefits. Coverage would take effect August 1, 2013.

A landmark 2001 court settlement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota expired in late 2011, stripping families of the state's only coverage starting last year.