NEW YORK, NY (April 2, 2010) -- Autism Speaks yesterday joined Kentucky families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the Senate for their unanimous passage of House Bill 159, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis. The bill was passed unanimously by the House in March and heads now to the Governors office for enactment into law.
The final bill passed by the Senate stipulates that coverage for individuals in the large group and state employee market between the ages of one and seven will be subject to a maximum annual benefit of $50,000 and that coverage for individuals between the ages of seven and twenty-one will be subject to a maximum monthly benefit of $1,000.
Individuals in the small group and individual market will be subject to a maximum monthly benefit of $1,000 regardless of age. HB 159 was sponsored in the House by Representative Jeff Greer and helped through the Senate by Senators Tom Buford, Julie Denton, Brandon Smith, and Robert Stivers, who despite the very difficult and unexpected passing of his mother this week, continued to demonstrate exemplary leadership and determination to pass HB 159 for children with autism in Kentucky this year.
"Autism Speaks applauds the members of the Kentucky Legislature for their unanimous passing in both the House and Senate of House Bill 159, thereby extending a helping hand to 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 call on Governor Steve Beshear to support this bill as well, and sign it into law allowing the Commonwealth of Kentucky to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism."
"We have an opportunity today to make sure children with autism reach their maximum potential with the monies we are about to provide, said Senator Buford.
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 treatment. 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.
"What an incredible victory in the Senate today with the unanimous passage of HB 159 and what a great statement to the autism community that the entire Kentucky Legislature has voted unanimously in support of this legislation at every step of the way, said Anne Gregory, Autism Speaks Kentucky Chapter Advocacy Chair and mother of a child with autism. Parents are one step away from receiving benefits for the premiums they pay every month to provide their children with medically necessary, appropriate treatments and therapies. It was an honor to witness the American legislative process in action to end this discriminatory practice against our children with autism."