NEW YORK, NY (May 7, 2010) -- Autism Speaks yesterday joined Vermont families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the State House for amending and passing S. 262, the autism insurance reform bill, in a unanimous vote. S. 262 will require insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.
The Vermont Senate passed a version of this bill in March, requiring only a study of the autism insurance reform issue. Amendments to S. 262 were proposed in the House Health Care Committee, chaired by Representative Steven Maier, that sought to expand the bill to require insurance companies to provide coverage of early intervention therapies for children with autism between the ages of 18 months and 6 years old, as well as requiring a study of autism insurance reform for children older than 6 years to be performed.
The bill was then helped through the House by Representative Anne OBrien, and the amendments were approved by the full House yesterday. Reconciliation of the House and Senate versions is pending.
"Autism Speaks applauds the members of the Vermont House for having the courage to stand up and pass this amended version of S. 262, 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 now call on the Senate to swiftly pass this amended version of S. 262, allowing Vermont to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism."
"I extend sincere gratitude for all the support and teamwork amongst all the advocates in our autism community," said Ron Marcellus, co-chair of the Private Insurance Subcommittee of the Vermont Autism Task Force. "It was truly a statewide effort of all the stakeholders coming together with one voice to make this significant step to improve the lives of our children and adults with autism spectrum disorder."
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. Nineteen states Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin have passed similar autism insurance reform bills.