SACRAMENTO (October 10, 2013) -- California's 2011 autism insurance law, which was scheduled to expire next summer, has been extended through 2016 under legislation signed yesterday by Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown also signed some bills and vetoed others in a package of diversity legislation designed to improve autism services for the state's disadvantaged communities.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who sponsored both the original 2011 autism insurance law and the new extension law (SB.126), said 12,500 children with autism have gained access to early intervention treatment, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) due to the law. Because of the early intervention and developmental progress of children, the California Department of Insurance has estimated the state will save up to $200 million annually in special education and Regional Center costs.
“Earlier this year, I stood on the Capitol steps and called for an extension to help tens of thousands more receive autism behavioral health treatments," Steinberg said. "Today, that hope for more effective therapy is a reality for those who desperately need it. I’m proud that California is leading the nation on ensuring treatments for those with autism.”
The bill also addresses licensing procedures for ABA providers.
In addition, Brown signed four bills and vetoed two others that were part of a package of legislation recommended by the Autism Diversity Task Force which Steinberg created in 2012.
“These measures are important steps in the right direction to ensure that all Californians, regardless of skin color or socio-economic background, receive the help they need to overcome the challenges of ASD,” said Steinberg. “Though more work needs to be done, we think these bills will improve the lives of Californians who are impacted by ASD and we’re pleased that Governor Brown obviously agrees.”
The four bills that were signed include:
SB.208, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, will require Regional Centers to evaluate the ability of outside vendors to provide culturally and linguistically competent services before awarding contracts.
SB.367 sponsored by Sen. Marty Block, will require Regional Centers to develop annual strategic plans addressing issues of linguistic and cultural competency.
SB. 555, sponsored by Lou Correa, lays out guidelines for Regional Centers in providing Individual Program Plans (IPPs) in a culturally and linguistically competent manner.
- AB.1232, sponsored by Assemblyman Manuel Perez, requires the state Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to account for diversity and equity when assessing the quality of services provided by Regional Centers.
Brown vetoed AB.1231, also sponsored by Perez, that would have made clear that DDS is required to facilitate the use of telehealth and teledentistry services in the Regional Center system. Brown had vetoed an earlier version of the bill, prompting Perez to reintroduce the legislation because he said providers perceived reluctance on the part of Regional Centers to include telehealth services without explicit authorization from DDS.
Brown again insisted everything required under the bill was already being done or could be done under existing law.
Brown also vetoed SB.158, sponsored by Correa, which would have established an autism demonstration program to improve linguistic and cultural competency in Regional Centers. In his veto message, Brown said the bill provided no funding source for the demonstration program.