Senate Finance Committee Passes Health Insurance Reform Bill Containing Menendez Amendment for Autism Insurance Reform
Washington, DC (October 13, 2009) -- Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today applauds the members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for their 14 to 9 passage of a health care reform bill, the Americas Health Future Act, containing an amendment for autism insurance reform.
The amendment, introduced in September by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and passed by the Committee with the support of Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), will prohibit discrimination in benefits against people with autism by including behavioral health treatments as part of the essential benefits package.
We are grateful to Senators Menendez, Baucus, and their Committee colleagues for passing this 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.
I am proud to have included a number of my amendments in the legislation, which will help lower health insurance costs, protect consumers and expand access to health coverage, said Senator Menendez in a press release. My amendment to guarantee the coverage of behavioral health treatments will help bring economic security and peace of mind to many families dealing with autism or other behavioral health conditions.
The next step is for the Finance Committee bill to be merged with the Senate HELP Committee bill passed earlier this year. The combined bill will then head to the Senate floor for a vote. Once the Senate and House have passed their respective bills, they must go through a conference committee before reaching the President's desk to be signed into law. Please visit autismvotes.org for updates on health care reform and the elimination of insurance discrimination related to autism.