NEW YORK, NY (September 25, 2009) -- Autism Speaks, the nations largest autism science and advocacy organization, today applauds the members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for passing Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), autism insurance reform amendment to Americas Healthy Future Act of 2009, the Committees version of the overall health care reform bill. Both Senator Menendez and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, fought hard to get this amendment passed last night during the Committees markup of the bill.
The amendment will prohibit discrimination in benefits against people with autism by amending current sections of the Act to include behavioral health treatments as part of the essential benefits package.
We are grateful to Senators Menendez, Baucus, and their Committee colleagues for passing this amendment to the health care reform bill. The legislation will ensure that families dealing with autism will be a part of larger health care reform, said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. Short of finding a cure for autism, there is nothing that can have a more significant impact on the lives of people with autism and those who love them than putting an end to insurance discrimination.
The next step in the process will be for both the House and Senate to complete their separate work on health care reform. Then the two bills must go through a conference committee before reaching the President's desk to be signed into law.
It is now highly likely that any health care reform bill which ultimately reaches the President's desk will end autism insurance discrimination by including the requirement that all health insurance policies cover behavioral health treatments, said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks vice president of government relations. We are grateful that the U.S. Congress has recognized that any health care reform bill that does not end autism insurance discrimination is unacceptable.
You can watch the clip from the Senate Finance Committee mark-up above!