NEW YORK, NY (January 25, 2011) Autism Speaks joined today with members of the Alliance of California Autism Organizations (ACAO), families and other autism advocates to announce its support for Assembly Bill 171, the autism insurance reform bill. The legislation would require private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, testing, and treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Sponsored in the California State Assembly by State Assembly Member Jim Beall Jr., AB 171 includes coverage of behavioral health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based, medically-necessary autism therapy. The bill contains no caps on age, number of visits to a service provider, or annual dollar maximum.
"We applaud and thank Assembly Member Beall for his leadership on this issue of critical concern to thousands of California families," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. "Autism Speaks is thrilled to work in unison with California's autism community at large through the Alliance of California Autism Organizations in calling on the legislature to pass AB 171 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.
After so many years of work on autism insurance reform legislation as part of a united autism community in California, it is exciting to finally see this legislation move forward, said Kristin Jacobson, Autism Speaks California Chapter Advocacy Chair. It is an honor to work with the Alliance of California Autism Organizations to help bring about an end to health insurance discrimination against individuals with autism. As an advocate that has worked with so many families struggling to get insurance coverage for treatment, I know that this bill will help thousands of families like these across the state.
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.