On the final night of a two-year session, the Ohio legislature passed HB 463, which included a provision that will bring autism insurance coverage to thousands of Ohio families impacted by autism. HB 463 requires coverage for medically necessary treatments of autism, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) for individuals under the age of 14 years.
After passing a more robust version of autism insurance reform, HB 350, in a House committee earlier this session, advocates faced significant opposition from outside groups concerned with potential costs for employers.
Representative Cheryl Grossman and other supporters in the legislature worked tirelessly to develop compromise language, which was amended into HB 463 during the final days of the lame duck session. Despite the addition of several amendments unrelated to autism, HB 463 passed by a vote of 26 to 5 in the Ohio Senate after it was approved in the House late Thursday afternoon. The bill was signed into law by Governor John Kasich on January 4, 2017.
“Working with an extraordinary group of friends and experts to make Ohio forty-fifth in the nation to offer this coverage has been one of the most rewarding goals I have accomplished as a state representative. One of the gifts of being a public servant, are the people you meet and the stories you learn. The autism community is an example of people who are the very best. They work together for one important goal. Our world is a better place when you are privileged to be with such special friends,”" said champion of autism insurance reform, Ohio Representative Cheryl Grossman.
Marci Ingram, a parent advocate, has been advocating for autism insurance reform in Ohio for almost a decade. “I am so grateful for the tireless devotion from our Autism Speaks government affairs team and the local volunteers who put in countless hours to make Autism parity the law in Ohio. I am equally grateful for the Ohio legislative leaders who had the courage to push for a compromise that made this bill possible. The winners are our families who have young ones on the autism spectrum who will now have the early intervention that is critical for best outcomes. I am proud to be a part of this team victory,” said Ms. Ingram.
“While the bill is not perfect, it is a foot in the door for Ohio families who have been trying every year since 2007 to get autism insurance passed,” said Lorri Unumb, vice president of state government affairs for Autism Speaks. “We are grateful to the Ohio legislators who worked hard behind the scenes to make this happen.”
Through executive order of Governor Kasich, coverage for ABA and other medically necessary treatments for autism have been required in state employee health plans and qualified health plans like those sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace in Ohio since 2014.