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NY Clears Roadblock to ABA Insurance Coverage

July 31, 2013

ALBANY (July 31, 2013) -- After months of pressure from the state's autism community and Legislature, the Cuomo administration has dropped a regulatory requirement that has blocked families from gaining the insurance coverage for applied behavior analysis (ABA) they were promised under New York's 2011 autism insurance reform law.

"The road is now clear for thousands of New York families to finally afford ABA treatment for their children with autism," said Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs. "Autism Speaks commends Governor Cuomo and our legislative champions, Assemblyman Joe Morelle and Senator Chuck Fuschillo, for working with New York families to overcome this impasse."

ABA, an intensive one-on-one treatment, can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year, a crushing financial burden for families in the absence of insurance coverage.

The issue involved regulations issued last November just as the state's autism insurance reform law took effect. The state Department of Financial Services (DFS) required that ABA practitioners obtain a state license in order to qualify for insurance reimbursement under the new law. New York has no ABA license.

Autism Speaks, through its Legal Resource Center, urged the state agency to drop the licensing requirement earlier this year, arguing it was in clear violation of the 2011 law which specified that national certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)would be sufficient for ABA practitioners to provide services in New York.

When DFS proceeded with the regulations, Autism Speaks and other advocates, such as the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis (NYSABA) worked with Morelle and Fuschillo to introduce legislation creating a New York ABA license. The two lawmakers managed fast passage of the licensing bill through both houses of the Legislature in June.

With the licensing bill about to be presented to Governor Cuomo, DFS, which had continued working with Autism Speaks and other advocates, issued a new regulation making clear that BACB certification, as specified under the original 2011 law, would now be sufficient. The new regulations took immediate effect, enabling families with state-regulated health insurance coverage to now access affordable ABA care for their children with autism.