HONOLULU- The Hawaii legislature passed a landmark autism insurance reform bill during the 2015 legislative session. The legislation, which received overwhelming support, now heads to Governor David Ige for signature. If signed, Hawaii would join 41 other states guaranteeing insurance coverage for those with autism.
SB 791, sponsored by Senator Josh Green (D-Kohala/Kona), would require state-regulated insurance plans to cover medically necessary treatment for autism including behavioral health treatment, psychiatric, psychological, pharmaceutical and therapeutic care. The legislation also requires plans to cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) with a maximum of $25,000 per year through 13 years of age.
"This is the best policy I have ever been a part of. After more than a decade as a physician legislator I can say with certainty that this bill will do more good than virtually any other I've sponsored. I'm happy to my core that families with autistic children in Hawaii can finally get some help. These are wonderful children and they deserve this support," said Sen. Green.
Rep. Della Au Belatti (D-Makiki/Tantalus) said, "This bill is a victory for children and families in Hawaii living with autism. Costs should never be a barrier for receiving proper treatment, and with the passage of this legislation, it is my hope that our keiki get the treatment and services they need. This bill works hand-in-hand with SB 40, regarding licensed behavioral analysts, to provide quality care to children with autism."
SB 40, which also passed this legislative session, would require the licensing of behavior analysts and fund the implementation of a Behavior Analyst Program. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the leading treatment to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior for individuals with autism.
Rep. Bellati added, "Behavioral analysts provide essential treatment to individuals living with autism. This bill ensures that children with autism receive the best care from trained professionals."
Families impacted by autism in Hawaii also celebrated the passage of, HB 119, ABLE Savings programs to allow families the opportunity to set up tax-exempt 529A savings accounts for disability-related expenses. Read more HERE.
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