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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Moving for Insurance

CNN reports on a family that moved from West Virginia to Florida for better autism coverage:

Faced with huge financial pressures and not wanting to miss their treatment window, Radcliff and Finn did what many autism parents do: They moved to a state where autism anti-discrimination legislation had been passed. Finn had a job opportunity in Florida, and they jumped on it.

Although the details of the legislation vary by state, all "autism anti-discrimination legislation," as it is called by advocates, compels insurance companies to cover ABA treatment for children with autism.

Twenty-three states have so far passed such legislation, and a controversial version of the bill is due on New York Gov. David Paterson's desk later this month, according to his office.

See state-by-state analysis of anti-discrimination legislation

Jennifer Saunders of the National Conference of State Legislatures says lawmakers have started to sit up and take notice.

"We've definitely seen an increase in the number of bills that have been introduced in the last few years related to autism [insurance mandates], and so I think it's been a growing issue for states -- or at least they've become more aware of it," Saunders says.

In 2010, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont enacted legislation requiring insurance coverage for autism, according to NCSL.

Susannah Poe, an associate professor at West Virginia University's School of Medicine and an expert on autism who advises the West Virginia legislature, says a bill is even gaining momentum in her state.

"This is our fourth year working with the state legislature toward this insurance, and this is the first year I feel hopeful that we will see it through. The legislators on the joint judiciary subcommittee are very well-versed about the need and have welcomed our efforts to provide them with critical information," says Poe, who spoke to the committee on Tuesday.