NEW YORK, NY (February 23, 2010) -- Autism Speaks today joined Iowa families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the State Senate for their passage of Senate File 2349 (formerly SF 1), which requires the state health insurance plan to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis, for state employees. Passage of SF 2349 marks the first step in bringing about statewide reform of the private insurance market and ending insurance discrimination against individuals with autism.
The final bill includes a $36,000 annual cap on treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) up to age 21 that are enrolled in the state health insurance plan for state employees. SF 2349 now heads to the House for consideration and will first be reviewed by the House Commerce Committee.
Autism Speaks applauds the members of the Iowa Senate for their passing of SF 2349, which will extend a helping hand to the families of state employees and create a solid foundation from which to expand coverage to the greater population of families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies, said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. We now call on the members of the House to follow suit and pass this bill as well, allowing Iowa to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.
SF 2349 was sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Daryl Beall, who spoke passionately on the floor of the Senate today in favor of passing the bill. Senator Beall is the grandfather of a child with autism.
I dubbed this bill's predecessor, SF1, "Drew's Bill," in honor of my eight-year-old grandson who lives with severe autism and is the inspiration for this legislation, said Senator Beall. Ironically, Drew will not benefit from this legislation, but other Iowa boys and girls will. It doesn't go far enough, but it's a good start. I am hopeful in a couple of years that I can demonstrate the good that SF2349 is doing for Iowa kids and at a reasonable cost. I want to come back to you, friends and colleagues, with legislation to expand ABA coverage to ALL Iowa children.
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services. Fifteen states Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin have passed similar autism insurance reform bills.