Due to a new state law that took effect July 1, private insurance companies must provide coverage for the best therapeutic treatment for children with autism ages 6 and under.
Ava’s Law, passed unanimously this year by the Georgia General Assembly, requires private insurance companies to cover Applied Behavior Analysis therapy for the first time in the state’s history. Georgia became the 41st state to require coverage.
Over the past eight years, the Georgia General Assembly has continually increased the amount of state funds appropriated for nonprofit organizations that provide diagnosis, care and treatment. The state provides $4.2 million to nonprofit organizations, such as the Matthew Reardon School, a year-round school for autistic children.
It costs $40,000 per year for the school to educate each student, said Patti Victor, the school’s president and CEO. State and private funding allows the tuition to remain low enough for families to afford.
And even though Ava’s Law has been passed, she said a lot of families still do not have private insurance and will not be covered because the law only applies to insurance companies selling policies. It doesn’t include large employers who insure themselves. However, the state’s insurance for government workers and teachers began including the coverage last year, before the law required it.
Victor said the law provides a “foot in the door” for future legislation.
“What’s happens when the child turns 7?” she said. “From a long-term standpoint, an important part of Ava’s Law is that it has put autism on the minds of people who have the ability to pass laws and to offer assistance.”