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Massachusetts Becomes the 23rd State to Enact Autism Insurance Reform

August 04, 2010

NEW YORK, NY (August 4, 2010) -- Autism Speaks joined Massachusetts families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding Governor Deval Patrick yesterday for signing the House Bill 4935 (An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder) requiring private health insurance plans to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies for people of all ages.
The bill, which was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Frederick Berry (2nd Essex District), and State Representative L’Italien (18th Essex District), Vice Chair of Ways and Means, ends private insurance companies’ discrimination against individuals of all ages diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by requiring coverage of medically necessary autism treatments, including evidence-based behavioral health treatments.  
“We thank Governor Patrick for signing ARICA into law,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “This enactment allows Massachusetts to join the growing number of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on individuals diagnosed with autism and their families.”
Governor Patrick signed the bill before hundreds of families at Fenway Park on Tuesday, making Massachusetts the twenty-third state to pass such legislation.
“I am proud that Massachusetts now has one of the most comprehensive autism coverage laws in the nation," said Governor Patrick.  "This bill offers needed relief for individuals and families struggling to pay for the services they need."
"Autism insurance coverage represents a systemic change in how many people with autism in Massachusetts will access critical treatment," said Amy Weinstock, Insurance Committee Chair for Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM). "We are grateful to the members of our community for their tireless advocacy and for the amazing support of Autism Speaks.  We are incredibly fortunate to have Representative L'Italien and Senator Berry as our champions and we thank Governor Patrick for making autism insurance coverage a reality for our families.”
In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on individuals with autism and their families. In addition to Massachusetts, twenty-two other states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin – have enacted autism insurance reform bills.
To learn more about Autism Votes, an initiative of Autism Speaks focused on federal and state legislative advocacy, please visit www.autismvotes.org.