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Autism Speaks Joins the New Hampshire Autism Community in Applauding Governor Ly

July 27, 2010

NEW YORK, NY (July 27, 2010) -- Autism Speaks joined New Hampshire families, the New Hampshire Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders, the Autism Society of New Hampshire, and other autism advocacy organizations on Friday in applauding Governor John Lynch for enacting House Bill 569, also known as Connor’s Law. This bill requires health insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. HB 569 will go into effect on January 1, 2011.

Connor’s Law requires that a medical professional submit a treatment plan detailing the course of therapy. To be eligible for coverage, ABA therapy must be provided by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or by someone working under the supervision of such a professional. The bill also includes a $36,000 annual cap on applied behavioral analysis (ABA) for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) birth to age 12, and $27,000 for youth 13 to 21. Insurance coverage for non ABA related therapies does not have any age limits or monetary caps.

"This is a great day for the thousands of New Hampshire families that had 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. “Legislatures across the country have introduced and passed bills that put an end to the discriminatory practices by insurance companies against children with an autism diagnosis. We thank New Hampshire's legislators and Governor Lynch for having the courage to put families and their needs first."

Connor’s law was sponsored in the New Hampshire House by Representative Suzanne Bucher.

“I am so pleased that families and children facing autism will have better access to the coverage and services they need,” said Representative Bucher.

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. Twenty-one other states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. A bill in New York has been passed by the legislature and awaits enactment by the governor before becoming law.

“One of the biggest challenges that advocates faced was the need to educate legislators about the long term costs associated with a diagnosis of ASD. According to a study by Professor Michael Ganz of the Harvard School of Public Health, the lifetime cost of caring for a person with autism averages $3.2 million. As much as 90% of those costs lie in adult services and lost productivity during adulthood,” said Kirstin Murphy, Autism Speaks’ New Hampshire Advocacy Chair and Director of the New Hampshire Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders. “Treatment is the key to both a better life and to lowering long term societal cost.”