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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Horses and Autism Therapy

State legislators recently approved a measure that would require insurance companies to cover diagnosis and evidence-based treatments for autism spectrum disorders. Therapeutic riding and hippotherapy would not be included in the bill.

Catherine Markosky, Mason and Max's mom, is also the founder of Southern Tier Alternative Therapies. The organization awards scholarships to families to help them afford therapy sessions with horses. She says she's seen families' financial struggles firsthand.

"Parents are going broke paying for these and STAT is here to help assist with that and supplement that, but we couldn't find enough money in the world to support all the families 100% with this," said Markosky.

Sen. Neil Breslin, who sponsored the bill, says alternative therapies weren't included in the bill because their success hasn't been medically proven.

"We just could not afford to have every experimental treatment included as part of the bill because I should say that every time you drive the cost of someone's health insurance up by 1%, 30,000 people in the State of New York leave the insurance rolls," said Breslin.

Parents like Markosky say they'd like to see the legislation amended -- something Breslin says is possible since within the bill there's a provision which allows expansion of coverage if alternative techniques are proven medically sound.
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