NEW YORK, NY (November 1, 2011) Autism Speaks joined New York families today in applauding Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing into law one of the most comprehensive autism insurance reform measures in the nation, Assembly Bill 8512. This new law requires insurance companies to provide coverage of critical autism therapies for both children and adults, and makes New York the 29th state to enact autism insurance reform.
"We thank Governor Cuomo for taking on the fight for families struggling with autism," said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. "New York has now stood up to the plate as a leader, not only for its families dealing with autism, but for taxpayers throughout the state."
Suzanne and Bob Wright, who founded Autism Speaks in 2005, were guests of Governor Cuomo at todays bill-signing ceremony at the Governors Office.
Sponsored in the New York Assembly by Assemblymember Joseph Morelle (D-Monroe) and in the Senate by Sen. Charles Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Nassau,) the new law will provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA.) The new law, which constitutes a compromise agreement hammered out between the Governor and the Legislature, will take effect in 12 months on November 1, 2012 and allow up to $45,000 a year in ABA treatments with no limits on age or number of visits.
A fiscal analysis conducted for Autism Speaks found the new law would save New York taxpayers $13 million over six years by reducing Medicaid, early intervention, special education and other costs. The savings result from insurance-funded treatments provided to children with autism at an early age, helping them to overcome developmental disabilities and require fewer public-funded services as they grow older.
New York has been among the shrinking number of states that do not require private insurance companies to cover even essential autism treatments and services. As a result, families paying thousands of dollars a year in health insurance premiums receive no benefits in return for autism-related expenses, forcing them to 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.
"This law is a win-win for families struggling with autism and for New Yorks taxpayers," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. "This enactment allows New York to join the growing number of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on individuals diagnosed with autism and their families, while rejecting the inflated cost claims presented by the insurance industry."
Assemblymember Morelle said, "With this agreement, we achieve a genuine milestone for those affected by autism while at the same time recognizing the need to control new costs created by insurance mandates. For far too long, families with a child on the autism spectrum have faced financial and emotional uncertainty because proven treatments and therapies were not covered under their policies. Today, some of that uncertainty has been removed. I am deeply grateful to the governor and to my colleagues in the legislature for their partnership in this effort."
Senator Fuschillo said, "This law will be a giant step forward towards helping families with autism get the care they need. No longer will these families be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year paying for autism treatments and therapies which their insurance companies refuse to cover. Finally, they will have exactly what they deserve; access to treatment coverage just like any other condition and protection from being denied services solely because of an autism diagnosis. I am pleased that we were able to work together to make this a reality."
Today's bill-signing makes New York the 6th state in 2011 and the 29th overall to institute autism insurance reform. Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation making California the 28th state to enact reform and, in Michigan, insurance reform bills are making their way through the legislature with the support of Gov. Rick Snyder.