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Autism Speaks Endorses SC Bill To Strengthen 'Ryan's Law'

January 16, 2015

COLUMBIA, SC -- A bill to improve coverage under South Carolina's landmark 2007 "Ryan's Law" has been introduced in the state Senate.

Named after the son of Lorri Unumb, who became Autism Speaks' vice president for state government affairs, Ryan's Law launched a national campaign that has resulted in 38 states now requiring their state-regulated health plans by law to cover therapies and behavioral health treatment, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), for autism.

South Carolina, along with Virginia, this year now hopes to join 11 other states that have strengthened their original laws.

Sponsored by Sen. Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown), S.135 would eliminate a number of restrictions in the current law:

  • autism diagnosis must occur by age 8
  • coverage ends at age 16
  • $50,000 annual cap on behavioral health treatment

Now limited to large group plans (companies with 50 or more employees) and state employees, the new bill would add small group and individual health plans in the state-regulated market. The bill has been referred to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

The 2007 bill passed the Legislature, but was then vetoed by then-Gov. Mark Sanford. Unumb and other South Carolina advocates within 24 hours persuaded the Legislature to vote unanimously to override the veto, making the bill law.