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Oregon ABA Battle Resumes Before HERC

September 17, 2013

TUALITIN (September 17, 2013) -- Supporters and opponents of applied behavior analysis (ABA) presented their cases to a state commission which will advise the Oregon Health Plan whether it should cover the therapy for 400,000 low-income children. The dispute was reported by The Lund Report.

The review by the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) was required under the autism insurance bill (SB.365) signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber in August. HERC in 2008 had advised against ABA coverage, but was directed under the new law to again review the evidence. The new law will phase in coverage for state-regulated health plans and public employees.

As noted by Lund, HERC is being advised by Dr. Alison Little [left] of Oregon Health & Science University, who has testified nationally against ABA. Lund told HERC the evidence supporting ABA was "low quality," citing a lack of double-blind randomized controlled studies of the therapy.

“Not all children benefit and a great many remain impaired,” she was quoted as saying.

However, Minneapolis psychologist Eric Larsson, who also is advising HERC, said ABA does not lend itself to double-blind studies as the benefits of the therapy are more individualized.

“People are so different when it comes to mental health disorders. The results are very individualized.” Larsson told Lund. “It doesn’t cure everybody, but what does?”

HERC next meets in November.