NEW YORK, NY (April 20, 2010) -- Autism Speaks joined Kansas families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding Governor Mark Parkinson yesterday for signing the autism insurance reform bill, House Bill 2160, into law. The new law will require the state health insurance plan to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies, such as applied behavior analysis, for state employees.
While the law starts Kansas on the path towards ending insurance discrimination against all individuals with autism, it falls short of creating real autism insurance reform for all families living with autism. Kansas becomes the 18th state in the country to enact autism insurance reform legislation, but the first to enact it in this limited form.
The law includes an annual cap on treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that are enrolled in the health insurance plan for state employees of $36,000 up to age 7 and $27,000 between ages 7 and 19. 97,500 people are enrolled in the Kansas state employee health plan.
"Autism Speaks applauds Governor Parkinson's enactment of HB 2160, which will extend a helping hand to the families of state employees," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. "Our hope is that this pilot project will create a solid foundation from which to expand coverage in the next legislative session to the greater population of families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies."
The original bill (Kates Law/Senate Bill 12) was sponsored by the Legislative Educational Planning Committee (LEPC) and was helped through the legislature by Senator Tim Owens, but final passage of the bill is due to the determined work of parents and advocates in the Kansas autism community
Autism is a serious condition in many children which requires continuous care and guidance, said Governor Parkinson. Kansas families should not have to break the bank in order to ensure their autistic child can thrive. This legislation is a great beginning for putting us on a path toward providing coverage for autism in all health insurance plans.
Advocates from throughout Kansas worked tirelessly and with this passage their voices are heard, said Mike Wasmer, Autism Speaks Kansas Chapter Advocacy Chair and President of the Kansas Coalition for Autism Legislation (KCAL). This is not the end, but rather the start of getting autism treatment to all in need in the state of Kansas.
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary treatment. In addition to Kansas, 17 states Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin have enacted autism insurance reform bills, while a bill in Iowa has been passed by the state legislature and awaits enactment into law.