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Calls to Action

Autism Speaks Urges California Legislative Leaders for Fast Action on Autism Insurance Bill

August 17, 2011

NEW YORK, NY (August 17, 2011) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, joined California families today in applauding Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on his effort to amend legislation that would give families caring for children with autism access to insurance coverage for critical therapies.

"“It is long past time for California to join the 27 other states that have enacted autism insurance reform legislation to protect families from the discriminatory practices of the health insurance industry,"” said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks vice president of state government affairs. "“Senator Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John Perez and other legislators, recognizing that the DMHC settlements need to be clarified, are showing the leadership necessary to ensure that families get the treatments their children deserve.”"

The legislation, SB 770, was introduced today by Senator Steinberg, and co-authored by Senator Noreen Evans and Assemblymember Jim Beall, clarifying that behavioral health treatments, such as applied behavior analysis, are considered covered benefits. Many of the 18,000 California families caring for children with autism are now forced to pay out-of-pocket for such treatments, which can total tens of thousands of dollars a year, because of a lack of insurance coverage.

The goal of SB 770 is to correct a flaw in recent insurance settlements negotiated last month by the state Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) with two major insurers so that they can provide the intended benefit of giving families access to such treatments through licensed or certified providers.