NEW YORK, NY (July 8, 2009) -- Autism Speaks, the nations largest autism science and advocacy organization, today launched a new national television advertising campaign highlighting private insurers blatant discrimination against children with autism and calling on Congress to put an end to it as part of the broader health care reform effort. The thirty-second ad, Neighbors, will air nationally on CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC.
Neighbors depicts two young boys who are next door neighbors one, whose insurance has given him access to autism therapies is shown playing with other kids; the other, who has been deprived of access to therapies, sits alone on his lawn, socially isolated. The TV spot ends with a call to action, urging the American public to call United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to tell them that any national health care reform plan that does not include autism insurance reform is unacceptable.
Fourteen states have already acted to amend insurance laws and require insurers to cover medically-necessary, evidence-based autism therapies. In the other 36 states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these behavioral therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services. Applied behavior analysis therapy (ABA), recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism, costs upward of $50,000 a year a cost well beyond the means of most American families. A federal law would supersede state laws and require all insurers to cover ABA.
Short of finding a cure for autism, there is nothing that can have a more significant impact on the lives of people with autism and those who love them than putting an end to insurance discrimination, said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. During the presidential campaign, President Obama committed to ending autism insurance discrimination, and the pending comprehensive health reform legislation is clearly the way for that promise to be fulfilled. Now is the time to finally right this terrible wrong.