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Cuomo Enacts NY ABA Licensing Law

January 10, 2014

ALBANY (January 10, 2014) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo today signed a bill facilitating insurance coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for autism by creating a state licensing procedure for practitioners. The new licensing process puts to rest a bureaucratic issue that early last year thwarted ABA coverage under the state's autism insurance reform law.

"Governor Cuomo's signature on this legislation ensures that New York families can access meaningful, quality care for their loved ones with autism," said Judith Ursitti, Autism Speaks' director of state government affairs. "We remain continually grateful to him as well as to Assemblyman Joseph Morelle and Senator Chuck Fuschillo for their thoughtfulness, collaboration and leadership without which we would not be celebrating today. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York continues to be a national leader in meeting the needs of the autism community." 

In November 2012, New York's autism insurance reform law requiring state-regulated health plans to cover ABA took effect. But the state Department of Financial Services (DFS) imposed a regulation requiring that ABA practitioners obtain a state license in order to qualify for insurance reimbursement. Because New York has no ABA license, the requirement effectively blocked the ability of families to use their new insurance coverage.

In response, Morelle and Fuschillo introduced the licensing bill early in 2013 and within months it cleared the Senate and Assembly by unanimous votes. DFS then responded in July with emergency regulations allowing ABA practitioners to qualify for insurance coverage if they were certified by the national Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

The new law (S.4862) now supplements the DFS regulation by providing for the state licensing process.

According to the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis (NYSABA), the new law makes New York the 13th state to create licenses for ABA practitioners. A similar licensing dispute in Virginia had delayed implementation of its law.

“The licensure of Behavior Analysts will allow for the full and proper implementation of the autism insurance law in addition to ensuring that Board Certified Behavior Analysts will move to or remain in New York after completing one of the many training programs for behavior analysts in our state," said NYSABA President Dr. Deborah A. Napolitano. "This will further improve access to quality care for individuals with autism and other consumers of ABA."