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Gov. Chafee Signs Bills Strengthening 2011 R.I. Reform Law

June 28, 2012

PROVIDENCE (June 28, 2012) -- Gov. Lincoln Chafee has signed a pair of bills enabling Rhode Island families to access insurance coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as intended under the autism insurance reform bill he signed last year, and adds pharmacy, psychology and psychiatric care as eligible benefits.

The 2010 law required that ABA be provided and supervised by a state-licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), despite the fact Rhode Island has no such licensing process. As a result, families have been unable to access coverage for ABA care.

The new bills signed by Chafee include SB.2559 which creates a five-member Applied Behavior Analyst Licensing Board within the state Department of Health so that practitioners can get licensed in Rhode Island. The second bill, SB.2560, adds pharmacy, psychology and psychiatric care as eligible benefits.

SB.2560 also enables licensed psychologists to provide ABA provided they have "equivalent experience" or the therapy falls within "their scope of practice." Both laws take effect immediately.

"We owe tremendous thanks to Representative. Peter Palumbo and Senator Ed O’Neill for their continued commitment to our issue," said Judith Ursitti, Autism Speaks director of state government affairs. "There is more work to do in Rhode Island to expand benefits, but with the licensure law now in place, we are finally able to implement the initial law as intended."